Hollywood Sidebar : Sam Raimi’s “Drag Me To Hell”

Posted: May 31, 2009 in movies
Tags: , , , , , , ,
Movie poster for Sam Raimi's "Drag Me To Hell"

Movie poster for Sam Raimi's "Drag Me To Hell"

Once again, this “Hollywood Sidebar” column will be a short one, since Universal Studios doesn’t need any extra help from my little blog to promote their latest Sam Raimi multimillion-dollar summer blockbuster, but I just have to say — damn, this was good. I hesitate to use a shopworn cliche like “wicked good fun,” but in this case it really does apply.

I should say this by way of setting the stage : I’m not an enormous Sam Raimi fan. Do I love the original “Evil Dead?” Absofrigginlutely. The first sequel is pretty good, too, although a little heavy on the comedy elements for my taste. The third installment, frankly, does nothing for me, since by then they were just parodying themselves. As for the rest of Raimi’s oeuvre, I can take it or leave it, apart from “Darkman,” which I love to pieces. I could care less about the Spider-Man franchise, and found the third entry in that over-hyped cannon particularly appalling; I thought “The Quick And The Dead” was alright, but not great; I’ve never seen “For Love Of The Game” and really don’t care to; and as far as “A Simple Plan” goes, hey, I’d rather just see a real Coen brothers movie, they’re generally much better.

With “Drag Me To Hell,” though, Raimi is back on firm horror grounding. Sure, it’ s still got plenty of comedic elements, and an overall “Looney Tunes on bad acid” vibe, but comedy is not the backbone of the film—good old-fashioned scares are, and this movie delivers plenty of seat-jumping moments, even for the grizzled horror veteran.

The effects are generally pretty good, and while I’m no CGI fan, the computer effects that are used blend in pretty well with Greg Nicotero’s “real” effects and the whole thing flows pretty seamlessly, as far as the visual side of things goes.  Bob Murawski’s editing is , as always, both mildly inventive and  flawlessly professional, and Peter Deming’s cinematography is out of this world, his best work since “Mulholland Drive.” So the whole things looks like a million bucks—or rather more like tens of millions of bucks.

The performances are solid all around if not spectacular, apart from the always-excellent David Paymer as our leading lady Alison Lohman’s rather wormy boss. The cast of players  overall is plenty competent, and while no one apart from Paymer stands out as really great, you can’t complain about any of the others, that’s for sure.

As far as the story goes, it’s pretty standard gypsy-curse stuff, specifically young bank loan officer puts an old gypsy woman out of  her house in order to try to secure a promotion at work and is then haunted by a demon the old woman sicks on her, but as with the original “Evil Dead,” it’s atmosphere and execution that trumps originality here, and even though you’ll see the ending coming a mile away, you’ll still enjoy the ride thoroughly.

A couple of weeks back I said if you only see one Hollywood blockbuster this summer, make sure it’s “Star Trek.” Well, your humble host needs to acknowledge that he spoke too soon there. Sure, “Star Trek” is all kinds of mindless fun, but not as much mindless fun as this megabuck studio offering.

Don’t expect anything new from “Drag Me To Hell.” But do expect to have a great time seeing so much you’ve already seen before put together so well.

Comments
  1. Danish says:

    Overall this horror film made by Sam Raimi is good, Drag Me to Hell did more than just impress me nonstop. It was a masterpiece of a horror movie, with unrivaled intensity, scares, and one killer of an ending. More often now, horror directors/writers seem to have such a difficult time ending their movies properly

    Drag Me to Hell

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