Drag Me to Hell (*)

Posted on May 31st, 2009 in Entertainment,Movie Reviews by mynagirl
Gimme my $3.50 matinee ticket price back!!

Gimme my $3.50 matinee ticket price back!!

What a terrible waste of an afternoon out of the house!  At least we ate sushi.

When the ad campaign for Drag Me to Hell came out a few weeks ago, I was cautiously optimistic.  Over the years, Engineerboy has educated me in the way of Sam and Ivan Raimi: Evil DeadEvil Dead II, and even Army of Darkness.  Hilarious, silly, fun, campy, sly horror.  Classics.  I’ll watch them any time they come on cable.  Who can resist … uh… deciduous molestation, anyway?  And Raimi’s a big-time director now, and the three Spidey films to his credit have given him the stick in Hollywood to go back to his old schtick.   

If only he had. 

Drag Me To Hell isn’t a fun, campy Raimi flick.  It isn’t even a straight-up good fright of a horror movie.  There elements of each are there, but you can’t just toss frozen beef and an uncut carrot into a pan and call it stew.  Nor can you splash some wine and lob a cupcake in the pot and hope it makes a whole meal.  A movie’s only campy if you commit to it and have some humor.  If you play it straight, even a little bit, the campy parts become lame.  At the same time, you lose your ability to do effective horror if you kowtow to the current market and, pardon the vulgarity, pussy out with a PG-13 rating, unless you’re really really creative.  

And this movie wasn’t.  Give me some exploding intestines, give me chopped up brains, if it’s straight up horror I’m okay with it.  (Although the best horror movies show some of the least, à la Jaws and Aliens).  But seriously?  This stuff?

Spoilers, blah blah blah…

A gypsy curse, really?  A fortune teller?  A girl who’s thin now but used to be fat as a kid?  Animal sacrifice?  The “I’m a Mac” guy?  (Actually he wasn’t bad with what they gave him to work with). 

I won’t even bother to detail the plot to great length, it’s so pedestrian.  Aspiring-career-girl-not-good-enough-for-rich-boyfriend’s-family, bank, gypsy, foreclosure,  tough moral decision, curse.  It’s exactly what you expect of throwaway PG-13 marketed-to-teens crappy-ass pseudo-horror dreck.  The soundtrack is obviously ominous to a fault, with omnipresent screeching Eastern European violins.  The girl hears weird sounds but oh it’s just a rusty gate.  On the path to her $2 million dollar rusticly completely furnished adorable house above the LA hills.  Oh but wait it’s the wind.  Oh wait it’s really the ghost of what must be the devil, because it’s a shadow with horns.   Oh, it breaks windows.  Yawn.

Then here comes the stuff that I couldn’t watch, the only way you can make PG-13 horror: the gross-out crap.  Ok, maggots,  fly in the sinuses, kinda creepy, we’ll allow it.  But the old lady’s body spewing embalming fluid all down the girl’s mouth?  (From which girl stands up shocked and marvelously un-spewed-upon).  Blood flying from her nose and spraying a 7′ radius?  Eyeballs popping out and the girl swallows them?  If this isn’t camp then what the hell is it?  It’s just stupid!

There were some Raimi trademarks, even sadder to see them so awkwardly used.  The low-but-fast-moving point-of-view of evil, the synth/doubled evil spirit voice, the suspended-in-midair possessed body hurling insults, an inanimate object suddenly animate and giving little squeaks as it’s “killed”… all trademark, all horribly out of place in a purports-to-be-serious horror film.   Throw in some humor, throw in a little Bruce Campbell, something, and this movie goes someplace fun.  Where’s the disembodied hand under a bucket with “Farewell to Arms” sitting on top of it?  Where’s the “Who’s laughing now?”  Where’s the mumbled misremembered incantation for the Book of the Dead? 

If I want serious horror, I’ll watch 28 Days Later.  If I want camp, I’ll re-watch Evil Dead II.   This movie could’ve been either but in trying to be both it was neither.  Personally, I wanted to love it because of the trademark touches that felt like they were honoring me as a true fan.  But honestly this dreck could’ve used a little more tuning and tinkering time in the workshed.  Better luck next time, boys.

One Response to 'Drag Me to Hell (*)'

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  1. Dave said,

    on November 16th, 2009 at 6:51 am

    Good review. I applaud you for even having the patience to sit through this snoozefest. I rented this with an open mind not really sure what I was going to get. The opening scene where the kid is dragged to Hell, was what gave me the first clue this was going to be a terrible movie. It was just a poorly shot scene that lacked any real suspense to it. I couldn’t stand to watch anymore of it by the time the gypsy woman was spewing phlegm. I turned it off. Then today out of boredom I decided to turn it back on and give it another chance. No success, hence my writing on this site.

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