Do you like gypsies? Do you like demons? Do you like Justin Long? Do you like watching bodily fluids fly across the room? If you’ve answered yes to these questions, you’ll probably love Sam Raimi’s 2009 return to horror, Drag Me to Hell. Nearly 30 years after his classic horror masterpiece, The Evil Dead, Raimi is back at it with this off-beat, modern demon-possession film. If you didn’t know he was the director, you might think that it was a bad movie, but some of the choices he makes are intentionally unconventional and designed to be subtly humorous in while still being scary. If you’ve seen The Evil Dead, you know what I’m talking about. (And if you haven’t you should go do that right now. Like stop reading this stupid blog and go watch it on Netflix.) Drag Me to Hell is somehow both an actual horror movie and a sort of parody of itself at the same time.
The movie is about a young lady, Christine, who works as a loan officer at a bank. She’s in competition for a big promotion with this douchy dude at the bank. To prove that she can make cold, fiscal decisions, she denies a loan extension of a gross old gypsy woman. The woman gets pissed and after an awesome and disgusting fist fight, puts a gypsy curse on Christine. The demon that she’s cursed with doesn’t waste any time. As soon as she gets home and her boyfriend, (Justin Long- remember Jeepers Creepers?) conveniently leaves the house, the demon shakes up some pots and pans, blows open some windows and slams Christine around her bedroom for a few minutes. So she goes to see a psychic and finds out that this demon will kill her and take her soul to Hell in 3 days if she is in the possession of the cursed object-a button from her jacket.
Now, when you’re in a Sam Raimi movie, and you’re getting double-teamed by a pissed off old gypsy woman and a demon, you should be prepared for anything. And don’t think the fact that she’s dead (sorry spoiler-she dies half way through the movie) is going to stop her from fucking with you, vomiting bugs and maggots into your mouth, and shoving her arm into your mouth and down your throat, because it won’t. Oh and about the bug thing-there’s a scene where homegirl is asleep and a fly buzzes around her and lands on her face. It’s slowly poking its way around her face, nose, and finally squeezes into her mouth and disappears down her throat. Watching it is so unnerving and gross. Totally freaked me out. The buzzing sound is so good too. Nasty.
Also a bit more on the sound effects. Everything in this movie is over the top. Sound effects included. Everything is extra squishy and sloppy and loud and disgusting. There’s a scene where the gypsy lady pulls out her false teeth and sets them on the desk. The oozing, slapping noises of drool and gums that just seem to slide out of this woman’s disgusting old mouth are really just upsetting. Raimi can shoot a scene in a brightly lit bank office and still make it grotesque and horrific while still being kind of funny. It’s so exaggerated and repulsive that you have to just laugh at it.
Now, the movie is not perfect. I don’t really love the acting. Sometimes I don’t know how to feel about the main character. She says and does some things and carries herself in a way that makes me not really feel for her as much as I should. And Justin Long-the boyfriend, whom I usually love in movies, is sort of flat and kindof a douche in this. He’s nice but too nice. Kindof neutered or something. The character is a good guy and all.- I just get the impression that Justin was bored while he played him.
I don’t know if it’s the direction or the acting, but something doesn’t quite do it for me in terms of a conventional movie. There’s an intense scene with Christine and her kitten (that I’m not going to give away) but it really makes this point. Fortunately, the movie is sort of subtly winking at itself. So I think we can forgive these logical and technical imperfections and keep in mind that there’s more going on here than a straight-up ghost story. The story itself is not half bad either, and it’s got a couple of cool twists at the end.
Overall, I think it holds up pretty well. Raimi could have drastically improved this movie by casting Bruce Campell in ANY of the roles. Any of them.
- Is it Scary: 6- Not the scariest thing in the world, but there are some good intense and scary moments. Plus the whole thing is creepy and grotesque. Made me jump more than most movies also.
- Originality: 6- I can’t say there’s anything truly new or innovative here, but it also didn’t feel like a rip-off of another movie. Interesting take on the demon possession story too.
- Blood: 5- Good not great. Especially knowing who directed it. I thought he could have made it a little bloodier, but it still had a good bit of blood and other unidentified fluids all over the place.
- Believability: 5- I don’t know if I totally buy everyone’s reactions to the demon possession. The way some people acted was inconsistent and didn’t seem real. Also, SHE RAN UP THE GODDAMN STAIRS. -1 POINT
- Setting/Cinematography: 7: Like I said before, Raimi has found a way to make even the most mundane and normal settings feel scary and grotesque.
Final Score 29/50