Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt

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Things that go BOOM in the night…

The trailers for Drag Me To Hell make it look like yet another dumb horror movie, but the film itself, from a script originally written by Sam and Ivan Raimi just after Army of Darkness, is a work of self-conscious camp that never takes itself too seriously and invites the audience to be in on the joke. In fact, it represents a return by Raimi to the milieu of his Evil Dead trilogy, and as such is getting rave reviews from critics who are both sick and tired of dumb horror films and are glad to see the filmmaker return to his roots after the cluttered mess that was Spider-Man 3. And the resulting movie may not be a profound film by any stretch of the imagination, but a it's a hoot.

The film is not densely plotted and some of the "twists" are telegraphed from a mile away, but this is not a movie made to tell a story, but rather to have fun with the genre (and the audience). It has a free-wheeling tone and an "anything goes" attitude that Evil Dead fans will be familiar with. The simplicity of the premise gives Raimi an opportunity to cut loose, so while the movie is full of shocks and gooey effects, but they are usually either accompanied by or lead to a laugh.

Alison Lohman plays her lead completely straight despite the cartoonish tone of the proceedings. Her youthful appearance emphasizes the character's vulnerability without her ever becoming shrill, or seeming too sweet to prevent the supernatural and corporate indignities visited upon her from to driving her to surprising extremes. The grotesque Mrs. Ganush is played by Lorna Raver, and is a creation on par with Ted Raimi's posessed Henrietta from Evil Dead II (perhaps a backward ethnic depiction, but par for the course for the genre).

Don't let the PG-13 rating fool you: while there was once a time when Raimi would shoot a geyser of blood at Bruce Campbell for a laugh, here he proves that you can make an audience squirm without an overabundance of that particular bodily fluid, and this movie seems determined to prove that the M.P.A.A. apparently doesn't care about most of the others. Special mention must go to the make-up and effects work featuring Gregory Nicotero and Howard Berger (seriously, forgo the popcorn and Goobers, you'll thank me). Paul N.J. Ottosson's sound design alone is enough to give a person a heart attack; much like how the viewer doesn't know what Raimi is going to pull out of his bag of tricks next, neither do they know where it is going to come from and how LOUD it's going to be when it shows up. Chris Young's score creates an uneasy tone with its scratchy fiddle.

Raimi is clearly enjoying himself, and is self-conscious enough to throw in a few references to long-time Evil Dead trilogy fans. The film has a definitive focus and isn't for everybody, but it is a nice little black comedy. At its heart, Drag Me To Hell is a lark, a fluffy contraption built to amuse, and as such it has a marvelous, toylike quality.
Tags: christopher young, cinema, reviews
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