Thoughts on “Drag Me to Hell”…

June 6, 2009

Maya and I attempted to see UP in 3-D last night at the insufferable Regal Cinema in Union Square (none of the AMC theatres I usually go to were showing the film). If status updates on Facebook and Twitter reveal any sort of critical or commercial success for a product, UP and Pixar definitely have yet another hit on their hands. So many of my friends have recommended the movie that I felt compelled to see it. However, with any commercially viable movie, the chances of getting a ticket are sometimes slim. As such, the 9:30 showing was sold out, as well as nearly every other showing of UP that night. A WEDNESDAY NIGHT! Really?!

Drag Me to Hell

Drag Me to Hell

As consummate movie-watchers, Maya and I myself found a stray AM New York lying on the wet sidewalk of 13th and Broadway and searched through the movie listings to find a worthy alternative (hopefully avoiding the Regal Cinema at all costs). And, with 5 movie theatres in walking distance from Union Square, there were plenty of options to tempt us. We settled upon City Cinemas East on 2nd and 12th and Drag Me to Hell.

This movie has been getting a lot of press, though I am sure it cannot even begin to compete with the media attention heaped upon the action flicks headlining the early summer season (Star Trek, Terminator, Wolverine). Apparently, this is Sam Raimi’s return to the horror genre. I never knew he left it; I saw Spiderman 3, and it was horrible. In spite of my own distaste for horror movies and extreme disappointment in those horror movies I have been forced to see (Saw), I was inclined to see this one. Critics do seem to hold some power still over my movie choices. So, the tickets were purchased for the 10:15, and, after a brief Dunkin Donuts run, it began.

(Review begins here)

The gist of the plot can be obtained in the 5 minute opening scene: a gypsy curse causes a mysterious beast to seek you out and drag you to your death…in hell! It is entirely ridiculous. It is mildly racist. But it is incredibly entertaining.

Drag Me to Hell Poster

Drag Me to Hell Poster

I do not particularly enjoy the horror genre, but Drag Me to Hell offered something that I really liked: an acknowledgement of the ludicrous. Too often these films take themselves far too seriously, giving the unbelievable a kind of deified position that is difficult to comprehend on a real-oh-shit-it-could-happen-to-me level. What I liked about Sam’s (& his brother, Ivan’s) story was its consistent ackowledgement through dialogue and plot setups of the craziness of it all. Because they make fun of their own stuff, the gap between the unbelievable and the real was drastically shrunken. The characters, and the audience through them, encounter these ridiculous moments in the same WTF-how-is-this-happening-mindset.

I like that they made the ordinary/predictable fun. What I mean is that they took the archetype of everything and contorted it just to see our reactions as an audience. Certainly, they knew going in that vomit disgusts us and kittens equate to absolute purity. As such, they use a lot of vomit (yes, into other people’s mouths) and do unspeakable things to the token virgin, the kitten.

I have to admire the sound editors on this movie, as well. With a stray chord or tone, the soundtrack was able both to prepare us for a scare or to trick us into that belief. It was relentless in its ability to automatically produce goosebumps! And that score played throughout the beginning credits (entirely underused throughout the meat of the movie) was absolutely outstanding and haunting.

I was just thinking about what my favorite moment of the movie was. I intended to say the dinner party scene, where the beast makes its return following an interesting episode with the main character’s kitten. But thinking it over, I really like the fantastic (and hilarious) parking garage fight that occurs between the spurned gypsy woman and the main character. It was violent, shocking, and absolutely disgusting at points. But a hell of a fantastic scene.

Overall, a definite recommendation for a laugh-filled, frightening night.

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