July 31, 2011

Drag Me to Hell (2009)

"A loan officer who evicts an old woman from her home finds herself the recipient of a supernatural curse. Desperate, she turns to a seer to try and save her soul, while evil forces work to push her to a breaking point."

I was going through a stack of DVDs (which I am about to throw out) earlier today when I discovered that I had an ex-rental copy of "Drag Me to Hell" among them. I realised that I hadn't even reviewed this film yet so I'll do it now as quickly as I can.

"Drag Me to Hell" marked Sam Raimi's long awaited return to directing horror after all those increasingly weaker "Spider-man" movies which really shouldn't interest any of us at all. Although Raimi had been the producer of several horror movies in the last ten years, including "The Grudge" (2004) and "30 Days of Night" (2007), he hadn't actually directed anything in the horror genre since "The Gift" (2000) and that barely qualifies.

Of course, everybody knows Sam Raimi's name because of "The Evil Dead" (1981) and its sequel (or more comedic remake) "Evil Dead II" (1987). With such groundbreaking films as those to his credit, everyone was expecting something quite special. Unfortunately, "Drag Me to Hell" was a polarising experience among horror fans with many of the director's former supporters boycotting the theatrical release of the movie because of its PG-13 rating. Those who did go to see it, came away disappointed because of the overuse of extremely loud music and jump scares.

Having watched both the theatrical release and the "Unrated Director's Cut", I obviously prefer the latter even though it's a bit like saying that I would rather eat my own vomit instead of somebody else's. The clich├ęs are simply too many and the acting too uneven for this to be a good film even though it is still watchable if you keep adjusting the volume.

One of the biggest problems for me (apart from an obvious one that I'll mention in a minute) was that I couldn't empathise with Alison Lohman's character at all. I'm not the biggest fan of banks with their excessive charges anyway but the kind of person that Christine Brown was supposed to be really made me lose interest in her quite quickly. At times I felt like I was watching a horror version of "Clueless" or "Legally Blonde" although both those films are far more entertaining.

Then, of course, there was the sacrifice of one of the sweetest little kittens that I've ever seen in a film. Although it mostly occurred off camera, the corpse was shown and an animatronic version appeared again later.

Basically, any film which involves an animal death makes me angry even if it is necessary to the plot or highlights the extremes to which somebody would go to save their own soul. I was so disgusted by this that there was absolutely no way that I could feel anything for Christine Brown afterwards and, as I said, I wasn't really all that into her to begin with. When the inevitable and predictable end came with all its CGI, I was glad.

I am not going to recommend "Drag Me to Hell" due to the horrific and unnecessary kitten murder which ruined the whole experience. If you've ever seen "Thinner" (1996) or any adaptation of M.R. James' "Casting the Runes" such as "Night of the Demon" (1957), you'll feel like you've already seen all the good bits of "Drag Me to Hell" anyway.

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