Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Much helldragging will be had

So, I finally got around to watching Drag Me To Hell, Sam Raimi's attempt at kicking (or slashing as it might be) it old school. The principal concept behind this movie seems to be to bring back the good old-fashioned scary movie, low on gore, high on tension, ghosts and evil spirits. A movie from the time before all flicks needed to have a gimmick to fill the seats. On second thought, strike that last one.

The plot is about the bank employee Christine Brown, who ends up on supernaturally deep water when she refuses to help an elderly gypsy avoid eviction. The old gypsy curses Christine to be tormented for three days by the dark spirit Lamia before the titular dragging to hell is to happen. Naturally, Christine tries to pretend it's all in her head for a while, but soon realizes she's got a He Who Walks Behind-gig going on, and tries to save her eternal soul from an overdose of good old Fire & Brimstone.

This, being a Sam Raimi production without latex-clad superheroes, also contains a good bit o' slapstick. Maybe not surprising, considering the man gave us The Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness. What was surprisng though, was the way he mixed scary and funny. Notable examples include a fight between the old gypsy and Christine, which at times felt like it was from a slightly more serious discarded draft from a Scary Movie-sequel, the facts that a stapler was used or that the killing blow was dealt with a ruler did little to make it all seem more serious. The crowning example of sillyness though, is when the ghost-spirit thing of the old lady attacks Christine and she defends herself by dropping an anvil on it. I'll repeat that, she drops an anvil, on a ghost. Sure, the ghost seems to be solid at the time, but still, an anvil.

Well, when I've talked about the humor, I guess the natural order of things after describing the jollies of humor, would be to go straight to the antipode and talk about the nail-biting horror. Surprisingly, this movie does its job well. It uses quite a bit of standard ghost tropes, but it does it well. Sure, some of the scares were rather predictable, but they were still done with such an intensity that after a while, I was inclined to watch the movie through the gap between my fingers. Not that I did, though, I'm a jaded cynic, remember? Heh. Still, there's a certain level of Lovecraft-esque desperation to the terror of Drag Me, a slight uncertainty if the main character is actually haunted by the murdering spirit, or if she's just slowly going mad. Truth is, the matter isn''t resolved, and the evidence against it being an actual ghost case is there.

For example, the spirit is called Lamia, which is the name of a greek fable creature which does not the slightest resemble the faux-satan-esque evil we see haunting Christine. Secondly, the few times the ghost actually comes for Christine when she's not alone, no-one else seems to notice the banging on doors and other unplesantness that apparantly comes with ghost attack. Still, this could indicate that the ghost targets her mind rather than physically, it is as Harry Dresden of the Dresden Files say: «just because you're paranoid doesn't mean that there isn't an invisible demon about to eat your face.» Still, she certainly acts a little crazy. I dunno, I guess I can think about this more or get on with the post.

As far as I'm concerned, Drag me to Hell is the 2009 movie that's closest to the ideal Halloween-movie, the horror works quite well and the humor is pretty well done, such a shame it didn't release too close to Halloween. However, it would seem the DVD is released much closer to this season of horror, surely not a dumb move.

In closing, a few words on what'll be covered here next. First, I intend to submit my take on The Haunting in Connecticut, and after that, I plan to tell y'all a little something about horror in music.

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