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Drag Me to Hell Again and Again, Please

May 30, 2009
Evil Deads Superhero

Evil Dead's Superhero

After the disappointing Army of Darkness, I remember feeling a little sad.  Evil Dead 2 had created high expectations and the release of Darkman planted the seed of even greater things to come, but Army seemed corny and cartoonish.  It would mark a major shift in direction for Sam Raimi.  Then over the next 5 years,  The Quick and the Dead, Simple Plan, For the Love of the Game, and the Gift each had their moments, with A Simple Plan probably at the top, but overall a disappointing resume for someone with so much talent. 

And then Spiderman; a perfect fit for Raimi’s sensibilities and with big money behind him, it was time to get excited. I saw Spiderman on opening night and relished in it.  Spiderman embodies everything that is Sam Raimi, from the colors, to the story, to the subtle humor, to the even subtler metaphors.  There are scenes in that movie that I still can’t get my students to understand. Spiderman allowed the world to witness Raimi’s genius.

And then came Spiderman 2 and 3.  Now Mr. Sam Raimi was free to do whatever he desired.  And, thank you Sam, for choosing to Drag Me to Hell.  

Lohman under attack

Lohman under attack

The movie opens with a challenge: can you handle what is coming? I hope so; because I am back, motherfucker!  I was hypnotized, terrified, and mesmerized for 90 minutes.  He can still shock the shit out me, out of everyone. The theater was tense.  And although there are lots of similarities to Evil Dead, and even a hilarious and brilliant tribute to it, Drag Me to Hell stands on its own superior merits.

Anyone in the lead in a Sam Raimi movie is going to be physically abused, mentally abused, and at some point, fighting with inanimate objects. Alison Lohman throws herself around, battles invisible forces and eventually is covered in sticky liquids.  As Christine Brown (Ash light), she is brilliant.  She is not Bruce Campbell, but she is tough and courageous.

Lohman is sympathetic, feminine, and intelligent while embodying the kickass, I will survive attitude that is forced into action.  She battles demons, swallows vomit, trips over corpses, and drowns in the mud; but bravest of all, she acts.  She is believable as the tortured, naive girl who, through it all, never loses her innocence, her sparkle.

Drag Me to Hell plays against all conventions.  The terror mostly occurs in bright, shiny daylight. The boyfriend, Justin Long’s Clay Dalton, is more of the feminine support system.  Baby kitties, elderly old men, children, and even waitresses are all a target; and it makes for an uneasy,  intense experience. I was constantly off balance and, although never scared, often horrified.  And then smoothly delivered back to the story.  And this is Sam Raimi’s brilliance.  We are sad for the characters, all of them.  He sees the depths of the human condition and shows it to us; he is respectful. 

With Spiderman, Raimi returned to his roots of comic book superheroes battling cool demons with supernatural abilities.  With Drag Me to Hell, he digs deeper and makes it darker.  And with Sam Raimi, darker is better.

One Comment leave one →
  1. July 20, 2009 5:41 am

    I caught this link through Twitter and decided to check out your post, because I keep hearing how good this movie is, but I had no idea what it was about.

    Having read it, I can say that once again I’ve heard how great the movie is, and how brilliant Sam Raimi is, but still know absolutely nothing about the plot of the movie. Not a thing.

    Your descriptions of everything else were brilliant, so maybe apply that brilliance towards adding at least a brief plot synopsis next time? 😉

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