61 Days of Halloween – Drag Me to Hell
Drag Me to Hell is director Sam Raimi’s latest offering and a film which some had expected and hoped to be his triumphant return to the horror genre. Pair that with this being the first major production by Ghost House Pictures who have been unearthing and presenting some gems on DVD and it had some things going for it that would make one think it was a “can’t miss” hit. Well, it did miss – by a lot.
The main issue this film has is that it tries to be too funny sometimes, so blatantly that the film becomes a parody of itself. In one scene the protagonist, Christine (Alison Lohman) is in the tool shed gathering things to hock at the pawn shop and has an encounter with Mrs. Ganush, the Gyspy who cursed her. The old woman shoves nearly half her arm down Alison’s throat. Alison only escapes because she cuts down an anvil that is hanging conveniently over the Gypsy woman’s head. Are you kidding me? When did this turn into a roadrunner cartoon? The Evil Dead, which is one of my all-time favorite horror movies, was tongue-in-cheek and wasn’t trying nearly as hard to amuse you as the sequels and this did.
Of course, the Gypsy curse is old hat in horror terms so nothing exciting there. What this film gave the inkling of was perhaps a vision of hell. Nope, sorry, none of that either. While it is gross on occasion, even that is inconsistent. Alison is at the Gypsy woman’s viewing and the corpse spills out spewing bile (or enbalming fluid) on her, CGI bile not the good, real stuff. There are just so many examples. I will not elaborate on the nosebleed all I will say is it was just too much.
Pacing and overall lack of surprise is an issue as well. There were two instances in the film where you knew that couldn’t be the end but things seemed neatly resolved so either some not-so-exciting twist would come along, or a long explanation scene with new rules about the Lamia would ensue.
The craft of acting generally suffers in the horror genre partially because people with chops don’t want to be involved with it or the parts are too superficial. The supporting cast overall holds their own but Alison Lohman in this film had to carry it and she let it down by being a mousy, annoying, air-headed and unsympathetic version of Jenna Fischer, and in a couple of scenes towards the end she did her worst Bruce Campbell impression.
There was not a moment in this film that was genuinely scary or funny. The only thing that kept it on its feet was a halfway decent concept, the sound mix and the occasional practical or special effect, but even that gets old after a while. Of course, the blame, if you don’t like it, should go towards the filmmakers but spare a thought for the MPAA. Their undue influence on the marketability of films is what helped create this avalanche of PG-13 horror. So we get watered-down, tween-friendly garbage and this is another piece to add to the scrap heap. It’s a colossal waste of time.