Like Up, the title of Sam Raimi’s low key horror comeback Drag Me to Hell is not an easy sell. Last time I checked not a whole lot of moviegoers enjoy being dragged to hell. Aside from some residual post Spiderman buzz and goodwill leftover from three Evil Dead movies released over a decade ago, Drag Me to Hell, the story of a female loan officer who is cursed by the grungiest gypsy in film history, never became the smash hit Raimi-ites were hoping for. Instead, it’s destined to rise in cult status as people discover the joys of watching gross things go in and out of Alison Lohman’s mouth. Whether you choose to see Drag Me to Hell as a straight forward horror romp or a tragedy about a delusional formerly overweight country girl struggling with an eating disorder and self image problems the simple fact is the movie is a joy from start to finish. It’s a goofy, gross, good time.
Still, you need to enter into it with the right mindset. If you come expecting genuine thrills and chills, you’ll be disappointed. Drag Me to Hell excels most when it’s at its most audacious; when the movie appears to be playing by conventional horror film rules and then throws you a sudden Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad-like comedy curve ball. The word gummed to death springs to mind.
It’s impossible to praise the film without mentioning just how… cinematic it is. I know movies are, by definition, cinematic but Raimi’s B-Horror gem gets an A+ for looks. Raimi & Co. have forgone the SE7EN filter and given the film a lush old Hollywood feel. Or at the very least it’s a “New Classic on TNT” feel. This becomes especially vital when the movie amps up the demon funny like it was a Joss Whedon show because by that time, we’ve already established a sense of the film’s reality. Even if everything we see from then on is a funhouse mirror exaggeration of that reality, we know there’s something real at stake.
So I feel far less guilty when a scene with a demonic handkerchief fills me with glee.