Drag Me to Hell (15)
Just wake me up when there's something to squeal at
Sunday 31 May 2009
Taking a break from directing Spider-Man blockbusters, Sam Raimi has come home to the gloriously tasteless, lowish-budget horror comedy he pioneered in The Evil Dead trilogy. In Drag Me to Hell, his heroine/victim is Alison Lohman, a loans officer at a Los Angeles bank. With a promotion in the offing, she's keen to convince her boss that her soft-hearted sweetness won't stop her making tough decisions. So when a toothless crone begs her for a mortgage extension, Lohman refuses, even though said crone is just a cat and a broomstick away from being an archetypal witch. Overreacting somewhat, this dissatisfied customer summons a demonic spirit to harass Lohman for three days before, yes, dragging her to Hell.
The film shares its plot with The Unborn, which came out in February, but with one key difference: The Unborn didn't realise how daft it was, whereas Drag Me to Hell has the knockabout tone of a Tom & Jerry cartoon (or rather The Simpsons' gory Tom & Jerry pastiche, Itchy & Scratchy).
There are no Wikipedia gobbets about ancient Jewish texts or Nazi eugenics here. From its title onwards, Drag Me to Hell revels in its Hallowe'en hokeyness, sticking to the hoariest of horror standbys (seances, storm-racked graveyards) and turning them all into the stuff of gross-out comedy. This is a film in which the charmingly straight-faced heroine has an anvil suspended from a pulley in her garage, just in case she needs to cut the rope and squish anyone who happens to be standing directly beneath it.
It's a treat for those of us who don't like our horror to be too horrifying. There's not much in Drag Me to Hell to give anyone nightmares, but as eyeballs fly across the room, and witches spew tidal waves of insects, there are plenty of moments which will have the whole cinema squealing in revolted delight. The only problem is that there's not much going on in between those moments. Each exuberant set piece is like a spin on a roller coaster, but the rudimentary story and dialogue are like the queues you have to stand in before the next ride. Raimi and his brother Ivan must have knocked out their bare-bones script over the course of a long weekend.
There's still half an hour of tremendous fun to be had, but Drag Me to Hell is ultimately a quick, trashy B-movie, rather than the unhinged masterpiece that Evil Dead fans were crossing their fingers for. Considering that Raimi has now started work on Spider-Man 4, it could have been subtitled "What I Did on My Summer Holidays".
Game of Thrones
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 VMAs 2015: Was Nicki Minaj and Miley Cyrus' awkward acceptance put-down real or staged?
- 2 If you're not already angry about the migrant crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
- 3 Rules on 5p plastic bags likely to lead to arguments at the check-out
- 4 Chaos breaks out in courtroom as father attacks killer of three-year-old daughter
- 5 Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
X Factor hopeful Mason Noise: 'How is Cheryl Fernandez-Versini in the music business, let alone a judge on the show?'
Trevor Noah, Edinburgh Fringe review: New Daily Show host warms up in inspired style
X Factor 2015: Ratings drop almost 2 million compared to last year's launch show
VMAs 2015: Kanye West runs for president, Nicki Minaj calls out Miley Cyrus and the list of winners in full
VMAs 2015: Taylor Swift and her buddy Kendrick Lamar clean-up at awards - full list of winners
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
UN investigating British Government over human rights abuses caused by IDS welfare reforms