For every great film like “Army of Darkness” that Sam Raimi delivers, he always manages to churn out atrocities like “Spider-Man 3” to keep his fans wary. With this caveat in mind, Raimi’s newest horror flick, “Drag Me to Hell,” more than exceeds expectations.
When doe-eyed Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) denies a decrepit gypsy (Lorna Raver) a third extension on her mortgage, the gypsy curses her to be taken to Hell in three days to burn for eternity. Talk about overreacting.
The film lets you know exactly what you’re in for within the first few minutes: a checklist of horror movie clichés that somehow still manages to be entertaining. Pots and pans rattle to signify an evil presence, camera angles tilt for action shots, and my personal favorite, flashlights fail to work at the worst possible times.
“Drag Me to Hell” is an unabashedly campy horror flick. Comedic moments occasionally come so far out of left field that it’s still unclear whether many of them were intentional or not. At one point, Christine literally defends herself with a conveniently-located hanging anvil in her shed with no explanation as to why she keeps a hanging anvil in her shed.
And there are so many melodramatic close-ups punctuated by sad piano melodies that it borders on hilarity.
Lohman nails the sweet, innocent horror movie stereotype routine, yet any time the script calls for more than a puppy dog look as the camera zooms in, she falters. Justin Long gives a pretty good performance as Lohman’s loving, yet slightly cynical boyfriend but is still impossible to take seriously in this role for no other reason than because he is Justin Long.
While the film isn’t particularly scary, it does maintain tension throughout. There are enough “jump” moments to make “Drag Me To Hell” a great date movie too, as long as neither person gets grossed out too easily. To put it mildly, so many disgusting things go into Christine’s mouth that it nearly becomes a running gag to see what will go in next.
Overall, “Drag Me To Hell” is an enjoyably self-aware horror movie that balances tension with enough comedic outbursts to keep it fun throughout.
Cheap Seats Screenings:
“Public Enemies” — Sept. 16, 18-19
“Drag Me to Hell” — Sept. 18-19
Check cheapseats.umwblogs.org for times and locations.