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Drag Me To Hell (2009)
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 10/13/2009
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 10/13/2009
I wish that there was some way to relate to you just how much I love the work of Sam Raimi. I've mentioned before thatThe Evil Dead was the first videotape that I rented many, many years ago, I was immediately hooked on his visual style. I passed up a blind date (Good call? We'll never know.) to see Evil Dead 2 on opening night. I saw Army of Darkness twice on its opening day. I've supported Raimi through his non-genre work, and when it was announced that he'd be making the Spider-Man movie, one of my favorite characters, I was in ecstasy. While I've enjoyed all of Raimi's films to various degrees (although I'm not crazy about For Love of the Game), I never thought that he could make a movie which did absolutely nothing for me. But, he has, and that movie is called Drag Me to Hell.
Alison Lohman stars in Drag Me to Hell as Christine Brown, a modest loan officer who works in a bank. She's dating psychologist Clay Dalton (Justin Long), although Clay's mother doesn't approve of her. Christine is up for a promotion at work, but she must prove to her boss, Mr. Jacks (David Paymer), that she can make tough decisions. When elderly Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver) comes into the bank and asks for an extension on her mortgage, Christine denies her request, despite the old lady's begging. That night, Mrs. Ganush attacks Christine in a parking garage, rips a button from Christine's jacket, and utters some bizarre words. Afterwards, Christine feels very strange, and despite his protests, asks Clay to accompany her to see a psychic. Rham Jas (Dileep Rao) is taken aback by Christine's situation and explains that she's been cursed by the Lamia, a goat-like demon who will torment her for three days and then take her soul to hell. Soon, Christine begins hearing strange noises all around her, unseen forces attack her, and bodily fluids shoot from her. Not one to back down, Christine seeks Rham Jas' aid in finding a way to rid herself of the curse before her time is up.
As a critic, I love to give my opinion and I always try to succinctly state my case as to why I did or didn't like a movie. However, I try not to question other people's tastes and I don't begrudge anyone for liking or disliking a movie...until now. If you've read anything about Drag Me to Hell, whether while it was in theaters or for its home video release, you've no doubt seen that it's gotten rave reviews. It has a 92% on RottenTomatoes.com. I only have one question about this; "What movie did they see?"
From the outset, Raimi's films have been fresh and original, often pushing the envelope. Even when his movies tackled familiar subjects, such as the Western in The Quick and the Dead, they did so in a unique fashion. But, we don't get any of that with Drag Me to Hell. The movie plays like a retread of Raimi's other films and many familiar supernatural horror films. It's as if Raimi thought to himself, "Self-reference works for Stephen King and Kevin Smith, I'll try it!" But, instead of moments in the movie simply reminding us of Evil Dead 2, Darkman, and Army of Darkness, they feel as if they were pulled out of those movies. Raimi shows that he still loves to use "Dutch" angles and bizarre sound effects, but nothing feels new here. It simply has a "It worked before, it should work again." feel to it. Raimi is also famous for abusing Bruce Campbell in the Evil Dead films. Well, since Bruce isn't here, poor Alison Lohman becomes the fall guy and is constantly being pelted by ooze, maggots, blood, and gums (?!).
A word that I've seen used a great deal to describe Drag Me to Hell is "fun". Really? Watching this dreck for 100 minutes is fun? The movie starts out amiably enough, and there's no doubt that the confrontation in the parking garage is intense and shocking. (This is a PG-13 film?) But, after that, the movie just becomes...and I hate to use this word...stupid. Bruce Campbell loves to tell stories about how Raimi will come up with fiendish or off-kilter ideas and giggle to himself about them. As Christine is beaten and dowsed, I could just imagine Raimi behind the camera giggling himself silly. But, if you've seen Evil Dead 2, you've seen all of this done before and done better. The final straw is a scene which looks like an outtake from Who Framed Roger Rabbit?. And the less said about the kitten, the better.
It's hard to pick the most disappointing aspect of Drag Me to Hell, but it has to be the script. Not only is it far from original, the twist ending is telegraphed way in advance. As I've noted before, I rarely spot twists before they happen, but to me, this one was so blatant that I suddenly found myself wishing that the movie was over so that I could be done with it. I was certainly excited about Sam Raimi's return to horror (I actually saw this one in the theater), but he has apparently lost his knack for it. Instead of giving us something new, Drag Me to Hell plays like a series of Sam Raimi's greatest hit as played by a cover band.
Drag Me to Hell offers the worst goat scene ever on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains a VC-1 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 20 Mbps. The image is incredibly sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source material. The image is very well-balance, as it's never overly dark or bright. The colors look very good, most notably primary colors, such as red. The image shows a nice amount of detail and the depth is excellent. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.2 Mbps. The track delivers clear dialogue and sound effects. If you feel that you must see Drag Me to Hell, then watch the Blu-ray Disc, as this audio track is outstanding. The film has a great sound mix and part of its attempts at scaring you rely on sounds coming from all around. The stereo and surround sound speakers are constantly filled with the odd sounds of the approaching Lamia and the subwoofer kicks into gear as the demon attacks. The effects do a great job of mirroring the on-screen action and help to add some level of competency to the film.
The only extras on the Drag Me to Hell Blu-ray Disc are a series of "Production Diaries" (35 minutes) which are broken up into 14 categories. These "diaries" can often just be on-set video, but the pieces here are more in-depth, as each focuses on a specific scene. We get a ton of behind-the-scenes footage and comments from the actors and crew. Raimi does appear here, but not as often as we would like.
Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long