Drag Me To Hell Sam Raimi

Drag Me To Hell Sam Raimi
Few modern directors could headline a feature from behind the lens with almost no recognizable stars in front of the camera. Fewer still would make the director's invisible presence utterly crucial to the film's shrieks of laughter and terror. Practically a genre unto himself, Sam Raimi returns to the horror comedy aesthetic he built his legacy on for Drag Me To Hell. Only now, in this post-Spider-Man world, Raimi's got the clout to run wild with the keys to the studio coffers, so it's impressive that while the effects work is a million miles beyond his Evil Dead days, Raimi holds a tight rein, doling out fleeting demonic graphics but saving most of the fun for the practical and nasty. And it's a lot of nasty Christine Brown has to go through for rejecting an old gypsy woman's loan extension. One hysterical parking lot throwdown later (best fight scene of the year?) and Christine has a nasty curse cast upon her. She convinces doting boyfriend Clay (Justin Long in straight man mode, or the "girlfriend role," as he calls it while hosting the "Production Diary" features), to stop at a fortune-teller for a reading. Dileep Rao turns in a passionately campy performance as cleverly named seer Rham Jas. He reveals the curse to be that of a demon named the Lamia. Translation: Sam Raimi's fucking with you. The plot gets the job done but it's not really a story designed to carve out a genre-bending path or demand overt attention. It's here to show a woman being psychologically and very physically dragged to hell. Alison Lohman is plenty game as Christine, carefully balancing her need to succeed, at work and at not dying, with an acute awareness of morality and a hazy innocence that allows the viewer to both fear for her and delight in her torment. For all the tricks of the trade employed by such a skilful director, it would've been nice to get a commentary track out of the man. As it stands, the "Production Diaries" are the whole shebang. The 30-odd minutes to chew on are interesting but feel overly lean. Oh, and that Unrated Director's Cut? Two extra blood squirts in scenes that you'll barely notice. Still, the maestro delivered what's easily among the best, most equally funny/scary movies ever made, all without a boom-stick, chainsaw hand or Campbell chin in sight. (Universal)