By Clint Morris
There mightnâ€™t be a guy in crimson tights scaling tall buildings in Sam â€˜Spider-Manâ€™ Raimiâ€™s latest, but thereâ€™s still a wealth of cobwebs, creepy crawlies and all sorts of disgusting things shooting from the most unexpected places of the human body. But Peter Parker and Mrs Ganush are definitely from different worlds.
After riding the cash-cow that is the superhero-movie genre the past few years, â€œDrag Me to Hellâ€ marks Raimiâ€™s return to the world of horror â€“ or rather, the horror/comedy. The filmmaker, who made his name as the director of the cheap, low-budget â€œEvil Deadâ€ series (a film he shot at college with friends, which later went on to become a bonafide box-office smash, and now, cult classic), makes a formidable return to the scare-factory hereâ€¦ serving up a film thatâ€™s calculatedly amusing, but equally as frightening. If thereâ€™s one thing you can say about Sam Raimi, itâ€™s that he knows how to give audiences a good time.
Performed ever-so-earnestly by itâ€™s core cast, but directed with a scrumptiously over-the-top and slightly camp undertone, the Sam & Ivan Raimi-penned pic plays out like an old-school horror movie thatâ€™s been rewritten by Stephen King (in fact, the storylineâ€™s not that dissimilar to Kingâ€™s â€œThinnerâ€). Itâ€™s the tale of Christine Brown (the always-wonderful Alison Lohman), a loan officer whose forced â€“ if she wants that job promotion, she better! – to evict an old woman, Mrs Ganush (a wonderful Lorna Raver) from her home â€“ only to end up cursed by the â€œshamedâ€ old bat. Haunted by an evil spirit and misunderstood by a sceptical boyfriend (Justin Long), Christine seeks the aid of seer Rham Jas (Dileep Rao) to save her soul from eternal damnation.
Youâ€™ll be both on the edge-of-your-seat, and beside it in fits of laughter â€“ as our heroine encounters all sorts of hilariously ghastly creatures (largely, the repulsive old bat at the centre of the picture) and finds herself embroiled in a rather ridiculous situation. Itâ€™s the perfect balance of lunges and laughs â€“ which, as â€œEvil Deadâ€ fans will attest to, is a Raimi speciality.
â€œDrag Me to Hellâ€ is a watertight masterpiece. Itâ€™s truly one of the funnest and most frightening pictures in years; I personally canâ€™t recall having this much fun at the cinema. And if you donâ€™t feel the same way – you might want to pay a visit to the mortuary; you couldâ€™ve passed away in your sleep.
A very, very, very disappointing DVD. Considering the DVD releases of Raimi’s “Spider-Man” films usually come complete with an extra disc ‘full’ of extras, and this one comes with a singular bonus feature (a production diary), it’s a significantly noticeable oversight. I frankly couldn’t believe my eyes when I scanned the back cover and saw the listing for the one, lonely extra feature staring back at me. Hopefully this thing becomes a cult hit so in a few years time we get some kind of deluxe edition.