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  Publicity Stills of
"Drag Me To Hell"
(Courtesy of GV)

Director: Sam Raimi
Cast: Alison Lohman, Justin Long, Lorna Raver, Jessica Lucas, David Paymer, Dileep Rao
RunTime: 1 hr 40 mins
Released By: GV & Scorpio East Pictures
Rating: PG (Horror & Some Disturbing Scenes)
Official Website: http://www.dragmetohell.net

Opening Day: 11 June 2009


Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) is an ambitious L.A. loan officer with a charming boyfriend, professor Clay Dalton (Justin Long). Life is good until the mysterious Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver) arrives at the bank to beg for an extension on her home loan. Should Christine follow her instincts and give the old woman a break? Or should she deny the extension to impress her boss, Mr. Jacks (David Paymer), and get a leg-up on a promotion? Christine fatefully chooses the latter, shaming Mrs. Ganush and dispossessing her of her home.

In retaliation, the old woman places the powerful curse of the Lamia on Christine, transforming her life into a living hell. Haunted by an evil spirit and misunderstood by a skeptical boyfriend, she seeks the aid of seer Rham Jas (Dileep Rao) to save her soul from eternal damnation. To help the shattered Christine return her life to normal, the psychic sets her on a frantic course to reverse the spell. As evil forces close in, Christine must face the unthinkable: how far will she go to break free of the curse?

Movie Review:

Hi, my name is Justin, and I'm a Raimi fanboy.

Have been since I was 13 years old, when I first saw VHS copies of the “Evil Dead” trilogy. I remember them quite well. I remember seeing one of the most inventive, inspiring shots I'd ever seen in a film. You know the one in “Evil Dead II”, when the camera takes on the point of view of a demon settling on the cabin in the woods where our victims and protagonists hid and in one long and unbroken shot, hurtled through the woods, smashed into the door and chased our hero from room to room. It was a delirious, manic romp that braced and sustained my early interest in the genre that led me to my favourite films -- “The Exorcist” and “Suspiria”. It was so entertaining, so scary and so funny, but it was also an education in films.

Raimi's first feature, “The Evil Dead” introduced a young filmmaker with terrific vision, inventive ideas and a refreshing outlook on a genre that called for renewed innovation from new bloods. Mixing in the spiritual tropes of “The Exorcist” and Dario Argento's calculated blood-letting, Raimi showed a mad but cultured approach to his scenes of terror and unnerving provocations of unseen, intangible evils lurking away in the shadows. He followed his prodigious debut with the above mentioned quasi remake/sequel that acted as a sort of reboot to the first by rewriting the characters and continuity to lead into Raimi's now trademark melding of horror and slapstick, with a heaping of ingenious grue-spattered nastiness. The film was driven by a creative force so unhinged that it created a visual diorama of gore and jet-black humour culminating in “Army of Darkness”, the trilogy's last entry – a film that seemed obligatory in its outlook but quickly turned into a consuming blast of camp zaniness and exceptional mind-etching set-pieces that redefined genre conventions and turned them into staples, sealing Raimi's and his star performer, Bruce Campbell's reputations as cult figures in the genre's pantheon.

So after a decade of helming yet another trilogy – the commercially spectacular “Spider-Man” – the big question going into Raimi's latest film, “Drag Me to Hell” is whether one of the most resourceful and adroit film-makers of his generation still had the chops to deliver new life into a once lofty genre that is quickly becoming decimated by cheap, often lazy remakes of Asian horror and nondescript torture porn masquerading as horror.. Using a multi-platform grab at teenagers and young adults – many of whom came of age in the light of Raimi's early direction – through meticulous reminders of his prodigious oeuvre, the hype leading up to the release of the horror maestro's return to his playground was significant as it differentiated itself from cookie-cutter PG-13 horror films by the sole draw of its auteur's hallowed reputation.

In many respects “Drag Me to Hell” can be seen as the coveted fourth “Evil Dead” film. It trades on delicious 80s' nostalgia – from the opening frame of its long unused studio logo to the film's build-up of the genre's delectable excesses, culminating in the pitch-perfect composition of an engaging narrative and the giddy volatility of macabre absurdities. Raimi plays the most outrageous scenes straight. That's not to say the film takes itself too seriously at any point of time. There's an air of tongue-in-cheek vitality in it that keeps us reassured that it scares us to entertain us, like a carnival ride of frights and frisson. Perhaps it's as an evolution of Raimi's approach to horror when he keeps his protagonist – the ambitious, young loan officer Christine (Alison Lohman) – real and consistently rattled by that old predicament of a milky-eyed gypsy's vengeful curse when she denies the old lady's mortgage payment. How's that for contemporary moral-spiritual commentary of the banking industry's long-overdue comeuppance?

This film bares Raimi's signature tone and visual bravura throughout the film, re-using and re-tooling much of the creepy imagery from his past films and even manages to one-up and exhaust the arsenal in his shock locker. He's here to have fun and bring us along for the ride. It's hard to not be infected by his excitement of getting loose of the didactic cobwebs of the mainstream superhero films. Ultimately, Raimi gives us a definitive answer to our probing of his viability by refining his craftsmanship and even bringing back the possessed camera-work and frenetic splatter gags of his glorious past. “Drag Me to Hell” is a perfect storm of genre film-making – rough, revolting and exuberant.

Movie Rating:

(Shocking, funny and a rollicking return to form by Sam Raimi)

Review by Justin Deimen


. The Unborn (2009)

. Mirrors (2008)

. 1408 (2007)

. Dead Silence (2007)

. The Reaping (2007)

. An American Haunting (2006)

. The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005)

. Exorcist: The Beginning (2004)




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