Sunday, June 7, 2009

Movie Review: Drag Me to Hell

It's Saturday night and a full moon is out, so what better thing is there to do than go see a scary movie. I went tonight to see Sam Raimi's Drag Me to Hell. If I had to sum it up in one word, "awesome!" comes to mind.

The basic plot is a loan officer at a bank refuses to give a third extension to an old gypsy woman for her mortgage, so the gypsy woman curses her to be tormented for three days and then be dragged to Hell (for more of the same ad eternam). Naturally, she wants to get out from the curse and the rest of the movie chronicles her torments and her attempts to get free.

Sam Raimi is quite adept at setting up and paying off the scares throughout the film. He can build up to a scary moment as shadows chase the protagonist across the hall or jump something unexpected and unnerving in an instant. His real brilliance is in mixing humor into the horror, so the audience is at once shouting in fear and laughing at the same time. He did a lot of that in the Evil Dead films, and shows no sign of faltering here. It's an amazing way to build and relieve tension at the same time. And it's a little easier to go home without constantly looking over your shoulder.

He also gives a great fight scene between the gypsy woman and the loan officer, better than any and every fight in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. And he gets more terror out of one handkerchief than other directors can get out of buckets of blood and gore. Which is not to say there aren't lots of gooey, gross bits in Drag Me to Hell. Again, these are tempered with humor so that the viewer isn't just grossed out.

The movie is an intense and humorous thrill ride, like a great roller coaster. It's fun to watch with a Saturday night crowd that is laughing, hooting and screaming with you. I would recommend it, though not if you are too squeamish (like my wife, who didn't come with me).

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