Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Drag Me to Hell (****)

Drag Me to Hell.  99 mins.  PG-13.  Directed by Sam Raimi.  Written by Sam Raimi & Ivan Raimi.  Starring Alison Lohman, Justin Long, Lorna Raver, and David Paymer.

After nearly tanking the Spider-Man franchise with the emo-dancing Peter Parker, I'm happy to report that Sam Raimi is back in fine form with Drag Me to Hell.  Taking a cue from its title, the movie is a cut-to-the-chase, campy, scary, funny thrill ride.  It is the quintessential midnight movie, best watched with a packed theater, and it's a ton of fun.  Horror movies these days come in two varieties: uberviolent slasher flicks and spooky ghost stories.  In a refreshing twist, Drag Me to Hell is neither.  It harkens back to Raimi's own Evil Dead trilogy, and quickly sets itself apart from everything else around by gleefully scaring the piss out of its audience, while having a grand old time doing so.  Raimi is in full command of his craft here, and owns the audience, employing every visual trick and sound effect in the book to manipulate people's reactions in just the right way.  Alison Lohman (whose acting leaves a lot to be desired) stars as a bright, lucky-in-love bank loan officer, who, in an attempt to impress her boss and one-up the co-worker with whom she's fighting over a promotion, denies a loan to a crazy old gypsy lady and finds herself cursed with the "Lamia."  She now has three days to rid herself of the curse and all the horrifying things that come with it before she's dragged to hell, never to return again.  A fight scene in an abandoned parking lot between Lohman and the gypsy lady early on in the film strikes a perfect balance of scares and laughs, and really sets the tone for everything else that follows.  If you're not on board at that point, I don't know what to tell you.  Drag Me to Hell is one damn good time at the movies.



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