Starring: Bruce Campbell, Sarah Berry, Dan Hicks, Kassie Wesley, Denise Bixler, Richard Domeier
HENRIETTA: “I’ll swallow your soul! I’ll swallow your soul! I’ll swallow your soul!”
ASH: (points shotgun) “Swallow this.”
When The Evil Dead was released in 1981 it completely blew away the horror film industry.
With their titchy $375,000 budget director Sam Raimi, producer Bob Tapert, actor Bruce Campbell et al created a horror classic jammed fit to bursting with effective scares, laugh-out-loud moments and gallons of gore.
“I’m gonna get me some” (Christine, Drag Me To Hell)
While Sam Raimi is best known these days for being the director of the Spider-Man trilogy, to fans of horror and cult cinema he’ll always be the man behind the legendary Evil Dead films. With this trilogy Raimi took situations that in real life would be blood-curdling beyond belief and presented them in such a darkly comic way that was both horrific and hilarious at the same time. Drag Me To Hell marked Raimi’s return to the genre, and while it could never live up to the Evil Dead films it has a ruddy good go at it.
The story begins with Christine (the likeable Alison Lohmann) trying to impress her boss at the bank so she can be promoted to an assistant manager position. Christine is approached by an old gypsy woman who hasn’t been paying her mortgage and needs a little more time to pay it. Though she wants to help the woman, Christine is pressured by her boss into refusing the extension. Enraged, the woman attacks Christine and is dragged away by security. Not to Hell, mind, just out the bank.
Things start to go a little tits-up when Christine, returning to her car, is attacked by the old woman. After a lengthy and ridiculous Raimi-esque battle, the woman tears a button from Christine’s shirt, curses it and gives it back to her, then leaves. From that point on, Christine’s life is filled with visions, hallucinations and attacks from strange beings. It soon emerges that the woman has summoned the Lamia, an ancient demon, who will torment Christine for three days then appear to drag her down to the depths of Hell. Bit harsh, but there you go.
The first half of Drag Me To Hell very much concentrates on providing the viewer with jump scares on a regular basis. Jump! as Christine dreams the old woman is lying next to her in bed. Leap! as she’s attacked by the shadow of a demon. Shriek! as a haunted handkerchief floats up towards the screen (seriously). While jump scares are cheap ways to provoke a reaction, Raimi nonetheless times them to perfection here and they’re hard to predict, keeping the audience on edge as shock after shock is delivered.
Eventually though the fun and games have to stop and the small matter of the plot has to be dealt with. The second half of the film, then, is more story-driven and sees Christine trying to figure out how to stop the Lamia from dragging her down to Hell. It’s a little odd because the man giving her advice seems fairly useless (had he suggested in the first place that she do what she does at the end then things would have gone better for her), though she does eventually figure it out on her own.
The most memorable moment of the film is its twist ending. Naturally I won’t give the game away but there’s a chance you may be able to figure out what happens anyway if you’re perceptive enough. Something happens in an earlier scene that seems so out of place suspicious viewers may notice it, wonder why the film’s stopped to focused on it, and be able to guess what’s happened as a result. Raimi gambles with it though, and if you didn’t notice it then when the twist comes it’ll all suddenly make sense and seem very clever.
Drag Me To Hell is a Marmite film. Of the people I’ve spoken to about it, around half adored it and half despised it. I personally really enjoyed it but I’m giving it three and a half Trevors out of five because while I feel you should see it, be prepared to be part of the population who didn’t connect with it.