Drag Me to Hell

Ladies and gentleman, THIS is how you make a goddamn horror movie.

drag-me-to-hell-poster-560x829 by you.

Drag Me to Hell is juicy, intelligent, terrifying, hilarious, and infinitely watchable. Sam Raimi has been biding his time for years to bring his next horror opus to the big screen, and Drag Me is one hell of a worthy successor to the Evil Dead trilogy. This movie was so beautifully, purely kick-ass that I found myself thinking, “Spiderman 3 wasn’t that terrible, was it? Surely I’m remembering a different movie? Sam Raimi can do no wrong!”

Let’s get the rating out of the way first, okay? Yes, Drag Me to Hell is rated PG-13. I know. No, really, I know. The first time I heard that, I was tremendously disappointed. Despite Raimi’s claim in this interview that it’s just a rating and it doesn’t mean anything, I couldn’t help but think, “No, it’s not just a rating. It’s an assurance that my theater won’t be filled with loud, giggly teenagers.” I saw it opening night, and yes, the theater was filled with loud, giggly teenagers. Thank you to the excellent Edwards Greenway manager who came in and regulated! Holla, homes!

Because once those little shits were dispensed with, the PG-13 rating actually didn’t matter at all. This movie was scary and weird and gross as hell and throwing in some boobs or f-bombs wouldn’t have improved it in the slightest.

al 2 by you.

Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) has an adorable home, a charming and devoted boyfriend, a sweet little kitten and the chance for a managerial position at the bank where she works. Things are going well!  Her boss tells her that she’s going to have to start making some tough decisions if she wants the promotion, so when yucky gypsy lady Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver) asks for a third extension on her loan so she won’t lose her home, Christine reluctantly rejects her, even calling security when Mrs. Ganush falls on her knees and begs. Mrs. Ganush is, well…displeased.

begging by you.

That evening, Christine makes her way to her car inside a dark parking garage to find Mrs. Ganush waiting for her. After a totally AWESOMELY hard-core fight between the two women, Mrs. Ganush curses Christine and leaves. Christine’s life instantly turns into a horrific hallucinatory spectacle and after visiting the surprisingly helpful and informed psychic Rham Jas (Dileep Rao), she discovers that she will be titularly dragged to hell in three days.

psychic by you.

I loved Christine’s character. She’s tough as nails and quite sensible. She doesn’t waste any time debating the impossibility of a gypsy curse; she just works her ass off to discover a way to reverse it. Alison Lohman is cute and likable, if not an extraordinary actress. I rooted for her from the very first moment she was on screen. Justin Long plays Christine’s sympathetic boyfriend Clay, and he does a great job with it. He’s sweet and supportive and they make a couple you can really get behind.

jl al by you.

Rao’s Rham Jas is another warm, fully dimensional character that I found effective and engrossing. And, well, adorbs!

psychic 2 by you.

Drag Me to Hell is fairly short and doesn’t waste a minute of celluloid, but the fact that Raimi took the time to develop these characters makes this movie far scarier than most recent horror flicks that are filled with a bunch of disposable pretty faces about whose survival we can only feel mildly ambivalent. Raimi’s attention to detail is just so solid—the audience learns so much about Christine based on her wardrobe, the way she decorates her home: all absorbed in a glance and causing each action and line she has to resonate far more than they would on paper. Raimi’s also a dab hand at subtle background jokes that sneak around the corner in the midst of a terrifying scene, causing us to exhale that breath we’ve been holding in a big, nervous guffaw.

The plot seems a bit timely with the bank loan and the looming promotion, but Raimi and his brother Ivan wrote the script years ago. It’s a great script—witty, fast-paced, neatly constructed and crisp as can be. The modern gypsy lore is sort of a throwback; in fact, the entire film has a playful, retro feel to it. Don’t get me wrong here—I mean playful in a PETRIFYING way. The movie’s hilarious and horrific in every shot, every line. This is Raimi at his Evil Deadliest. There are some great manual effects, TONS of repulsive bodily fluids (very few of which are blood, surprisingly) and some moments of seriously fine WTFery.

crazy seance by you.

Mrs. Ganush was naaaasty and Raver made her phenomenally scary. She made a great “monster” by virtue of her abhorrent EVERYTHING. She may not be as yucky as the Castle Freak, but I still really didn’t enjoy looking at her. Except for how I couldn’t stop looking at her! 

punch by you.

I simply can’t wrap my brain box around how amazing this movie is! Raimi’s utter joy in making Drag Me is so evident. He delights in scaring, in moving, in entertaining. The thing about the Evil Dead trilogy, the first two Spiderman movies, and Drag Me to Hell is that they’re all just so damned fun to watch! This movie is larger than life, compelling, provocative and simple, unadulterated spectacle. SO MUCH FUN! The kind of fun that grabs you by the ears, kicks you in the ass and leaves you stunned and spacy in its wake. There are certain scenes that I cannot stop replaying in my head again and again. The balls-out fight between Christine and Mrs. Ganush in the car! This was serious business and Raimi didn’t pull a punch. That staple, good lord! HER DENTURES, GOOD LORD!

car fight by you.

ganush by you.

And the climax of the film in the rain drenched cemetery! I have seriously dreamed about this scene in some form every night since watching the movie on Friday. I don’t think it’s a nightmare so much as my brain just REALLY wanting to watch that gorgeously intense scene again!

rain grave 2 by you.

And the end! JESUS CHRIST THE END. This movie has the most spectacular fuck-you of an ending! The last five minutes are stunning—extraordinarily, outrageously, fist-pumpingly awesome. GAH I WANT TO WATCH IT AGAIN RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND AAUUGHHHH!!

Ah-hem. Sorry. As you’ve probably gathered, Drag Me to Hell is the best movie I’ve seen this year. The crux of the thing is that Sam Raimi makes movies I want to watch. Hell, he makes movies I’d want to MAKE if I had the balls and the brains and the resources. Drag Me isn’t just disgusting and uproarious and terrifying and beautiful; it’s all of those things, but it’s also surprising. It’s a real treasure of a story, and it even has a solid golden-rule moral that I can absolutely get behind. But man, more than that, it’s just one hell of a show. This is the kind of movie that made me fall in love with horror in the first place, and god knows I fell in love with it all over again Friday night. Thanks, Sam.

10 Responses to “Drag Me to Hell”

  1. I saw this Friday night too! It was soooo awesome. I kinda went into it thinking it would be cheesy awesome, but no it was knock my socks off amazing. Great write up, but you are soooo right about the car fight scene. I can’t get that one out of my head. Esp. when her scarf was floating in the wind and she followed it to see that old gross lady’s shadow sitting in the backseat. WOW I was creeped out.

  2. I wish I could say what my absolute favorite thing is about the movie, but I can’t, because it’s too spoilery. (yes, jerry, even more spoilery than what i spoiled on facebook the other day.) But, suffice it to say, I love that there was NEVER a cop-out in this movie. As I was telling Meredith on Friday, what I hate about modern slasher flicks is that they do the “Scary Noise Copout” FAR too often. The first 15 scary noises of a modern day slasher flick end up being the cat, or the wind, or someone playing a ukilele, or whatever. That’s not racheting up tension. That’s just making everyone blase about the next scary noise.

    Not so Drag Me To Hell, which totally pays off on EVERY creepy moment in the film. You have no time to relax, which means that you’re on edge for everything, but Raimi throws in enough laughs to ensure that you don’t actually die of a massive coronary while watching the movie. (guys i got pretty scared. i had to hold meredith’s hand, cause i’m five.)

    SO excellent! I want to see it again RIGHT NOW.

    also, Rham? Call me. I got some gypsy curses you can work off, if you know what I mean.

    also, despite what the poor house went through during the course of the film, I STILL WANT TO LIVE THERE OMG SO CUTE. the set direction in this movie rivals Friday Night Lights (and that is a HUGE compliment, trust).

  3. i’m so glad that this movie lived up to yr expectations, meredith!!

    i am ALSO glad that you mentioned how SCARY it is cos henri tried to convince me that it *wasn’t* scary so that i would go see it with him. what a freaking liar.

    i will probably never ever see this movie BUT i’m happy that it made you so happy (and, er, terrified).

  4. I’m not reading yet! I want to see it in the theater!

  5. I’m a bit of a horror neophyte but thanks to friendships with those of you who are more pro than Kobe at this stuff, I am beginning to learn and appreciate. This movie stayed with me and kept my interest throughout. A lot was accomplished in the 1hr 40 min. Thanks for recommending it and popping my legitimate horror cherry. You always remember your first time.

  6. xymarla Says:

    Ooh and your comment virginity was lost as well! It was my pleasure.

  7. OMG, I loved this movie soooooo much. I actually think it’s my favorite movie of the year. Granted I haven’t seen Star Trek yet but I don’t know if it’s going to be this good. As soon as DMTH was over with, I wanted to watch it again. It’s tight, a little funny at parts, scary, and just amazing to watch. I want it my brain right now.

    Posh, though it may be a bit gross and pretty suspenseful, I really think you need to see it. I have a plan: wait till it comes out on video. That will tone everything down. It’s just such a cool film, I don’t know if you should live your life without seeing it. Come on, 95% on Rotten Tomatoes? Yes, it’s that good.

  8. This movie is as good as it gets. It’s positively humbling to see what Sam Raimi can do with the genre, and it’s one of the most entertaining, suspensful, and completely badass experiences I’ve ever had in a movie theater.

    Marla, your reviews are spoiling me – they’re so well written that now I get pissed when I have to read some other douchebag write about the same subjects as you. No one else should be allowed to touch these movies.


  9. xymarla Says:

    Aww, Jerry, you make a grown-ass woman blush!

  10. I finally saw this last night and YESSSSSSSS!! I think my favorite line is when you say she’s being “titularly” dragged to hell. I picture her being dragged to hell by her tits. Not sure if this happened in your theater, but Canadians are a bunch of woosies! About a dozen people left after the car sequence! When she’s gumming her chin, OMG!! I Loved it, it was great!

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