Drag Me To Hell (2009) Review: Gross Effects, Poor Story
“Even nice people can go to hell.”
Synopsis: 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.
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Drag Me to Hell hits a lot of the Sam Raimi standbys – lots of gore/grossness, an overly basic plot with supernatural goings on, and a film that you can’t quite take seriously as either a true horror flick or a comedy. There were a lot of excellent moments, including a few I’ll remember for a long, long time – but in the end, they weren’t enough to sustain the movie.
The plot is a fairly cliché Romanisploitation (is that a word?). A girl incurs the wrath of a gypsy and is cursed, facing the threat of hell. Even the twists here are pretty banal and expected, including the big one at the end.
What I found especially disappointing is that the first part of the movie sets up Christine (Alison Lohman) as a doormat whose life would be improved if she stood up for herself – but the rest of the movie fails to capitalize on this. The only time she actually makes a character choice, it goes horribly, and aside from that, she’s never the master of her own fate. Things happen to her and she goes with the flow, largely taken care of by the people around her and never really acting of her own volition. Drag Me to Hell could have been a stronger story if she’d gotten some character development, but unfortunately there was none to be seen.
Like many Raimi movies, especially the Evil Dead franchise, one of the strongest points in Drag Me to Hell lies in its special effects. Though the use of CGI is all completely ridiculous, the practical effects are excellent. There’s a lot of gross out potential here, and a bunch of props that must have been a ton of fun to make. This is where a lot of movies falter, but Raimi flicks tend to really shine.
Unfortunately, the practical effects alone aren’t enough to recommend the movie. I wouldn’t refuse to watch it again, but neither would I seek it out. Christine and Clay (Justin Long) are too saccharine and unconvincing, the story too thin and offensive, and the production value worse than it should have been. The Evil Dead is a better choice, but if you’re going to give this one a try, be prepared for a very uneven flick.
Calamity Brains’ Rating: C-
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