Drag Me To Hell: A Contrary Review
I'll admit it. I just don't get this one.
Drag Me to Hell is Sam Raimi's return to horror after spending half a decade hanging out with Peter Parker. Alison Lohman stars as a loan officer who refuses to give Lorna Raver a third extension on her mortgage and ends up with a gypsy curse as a result. Justin Long is her patient and loving boyfriend who doesn't put much value in curses. Dileep Rao rounds out the cast as the medium who helps Lohman figure out how to avoid being dragged to Hell at the end of the third day.
People like this movie. Made for $30 million, it eventually went to gross $90 million worldwide. As of this writing, it's at 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. Metacritic has it an 83 out of a 100 on the critic's side (the user side is a 5.9, which is much more in tune with where I would be). Entertainment Weekly gave it an A. My wife was willing to give it three or four stars on Netflix, which by their scale translates to "Like It" or "Really Like It." But I just wasn't feeling it.
I think part of the problem is that it wasn't what I was expecting. If you've seen any of the trailers for the movie, a link of which I've included down below, you'll be led to believe this is a straight horror movie. The trailer even bills it as the "return of true horror." And then in the first act, when Lohman is trying to fight off the gypsy by shoving a ruler down her throat, leading to a sight gag where the gypsy chokes for a moment (complete with ridiculous sound effects) before spitting the ruler out like a bullet from a gun, you realize this isn't just a horror movie.
It's a horror-comedy.
There's nothing wrong with that, of course. Horror-comedies are a perfectly fine sort of movie. There are plenty that I like; Shaun of the Dead, Night of the Demons, and Re-Animator are all worth seeking out and watching. Sam Raimi, himself, has done excellent work in the genre with Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness. But that wasn't what I signed up for. There is absolutely nothing in the trailer that would prepare me for scenes where Lohman spews blood from her nose like a fire hose or a scene where a corpses lands on her and a fountain of embalming fluid (presumably) pours into her mouth. Or talking goats.
But, hey, it's not like a trailer has never lied to me before, so let's move beyond that. In a good horror comedy, there generally has to be a segregation of roles. The comedy needs to be used in such a way that it doesn't undermine the horror. Shaun of the Dead is pretty hilarious, but it stops relying on the comedy in the last act where you are seeing characters ripped apart. In this film, the comedy aspects come out of nowhere and ruin the mood, especially towards the end of the picture when the Lamia begins doing a little flying jig for absolutely no reason. If the villain is expected to be taken seriously, that scene just shoots that to hell. Pardon the pun.
Not helping things are the fact that the CGI is utterly atrocious (pretty funny coming from Sam Raimi; his previous horror movies used practical effects more often than not and that worked just fine) and Alison Lohman's line delivery was questionable more often than not. She just seems stilted in most of her dialogue.
Having said all that, I don't want to give the impression I hated this, because I didn't. I just don't get the love for it. It's worth a rental but it's not a movie I'd plan to return to.
- Drag me to Hell - Trailer - YouTube