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October 13, 2009

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DVD of the Week – Review of Drag Me to Hell (2009)

by NIR SHALEV

Writer/director Sam Raimi is most famous for his Spider-Man trilogy, although for many others his Evil Dead trilogy stands out more. It was between the making of the second and third films in that series, Evil Dead2: Dead by Dawn (1987) and Army of Darkness (1992), that he came up with the idea for another wacky and devilishly hilarious horror flick. Drag Me to Hell possesses the soul of the Three Stooges and all the fun of the Looney Tunes cartoons.  Raimi waited a couple of decades to unleash this masterpiece and it’s as good as his early work.

Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) is a successful loan officer at a bank, has a loving boyfriend (Justin Long) and is hoping to make a good impression on his parents.  But in order to impress her boss (David Paymer) and possibly receive a promotion to Assistant Manager, she turns down an old gypsy’s (Lorna Raver) application to take out a third mortgage on her house.  The gypsy attacks Christine in the parking lot and places a curse upon her, one that will cause a demonic spirit called the Lamia to aggravate and torment her for three days. On the fourth day she will he dragged down to hell. That sounds like Sam Raimi all right.

The premise is simple and the execution is almost flawless because the film doesn’t take itself seriously even for a second.  The only bit of realism is that Christine seems like a regular person, just like one of us; I suppose the moral is that this could happen to anyone.  Drag Me to Hell has a PG-13 rating for the content and loony violence but it never steps wrong.  It is hilarious, especially when concocting action sequences and it does have a few moments when the soundtrack is guaranteed to make audiences jump.

The only feature is a production diary, in which we see some aspects of the behind the scenes filmmaking.  The special effects are more practical and physical than computer generated, and we see how a film as extravagant and visually inventive as this can be shot entirely within a studio.

Other new releases this week: Adoration, Land of the Lost, The Proposal


6 Comments Post a comment
  1. James
    Oct 13 2009

    Nir, have you heard whether or not this version might be followed later by a director’s / unrated cut, if such a creature even exists?

  2. Nir Shalev
    Oct 14 2009

    I hadn’t heard much aside from the fact that the DVD and Blu-ray have the Theatrical and Unrated versions but the Unrated version is 6 merely seconds longer; I know this because I saw the film at least three times. The extra shot in the film takes away from the comedic aspect of the scene (the one with her cat, you know the one) and so I don’t know why it jumped from PG-13 to Unrated because of 6 extra seconds.

    I hope, like all other Sam Raimi horror and sheer extravagant films that there will be a special edition of this film in the future, one with a commentary track that would explain why Bruce Campbell was NOT in DMTH.

  3. Helen
    Oct 14 2009

    I knew I would regret not getting to this in the theater…

    I suppose technically a film becomes unrated whenever any footage is added to the release version, even if it is only 6 seconds long and unobjectionable in itself. Sounds like a marketing ploy more than anything. Teenagers! Buy the DVD – it’s unrated!

  4. Nir Shalev
    Oct 14 2009

    Yeah, pretty much. You can look at the back of the DvD and it literally says that both running times are 1h:39m. Man, I was hoping that there wouldn’t be an unrated cut at all but this is ridiculous.
    It could also mean that there definitely will be a special edition to ridicule this one. :OÞ

  5. Aaron
    Oct 17 2009

    Good movie, but it raises some interesting theological/moral questions:

    According to Raimi, Christine is the evil one in the picture, whereas the witch is justified in her actions (WHAT?!)

    And if you love kittens, be prepared to be shocked!

  6. Nir Shalev
    Oct 17 2009

    That was so funny! And you’d be surprized how many people come up to me at work (I do for for Blockbuster Video) and tell me that the ending sucked. Then I point out the title to them and they think back.
    I could also explain to them that good screenplay connects its beginning to its ending…

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