Feast of Flies and Phlegm

“Swift and sure, Drag Me to Hell unfurls in vertiginous, comic-book frames, like a long-lost issue of Tales From the Cryptwrites N.Y. Times critic Jeannette Catsoulis. “Neither small humans nor smaller animals are exempt from the carnage, which is orchestrated by director Sam Raimi and his screenwriting sibling, Ivan.

“As for Alison Lohman, she suffers the indignities of the genre like a champ, morphing from mouse to hellion as her expiration date approaches. And while no one will mistake her journey — whose title sounds like a desperate plea from the director’s fan base — for a masterpiece, the movie has a crackpot vitality that breaches our defenses.

“In films like Darkman and the thematically similar Spider-Man 2, Mr. Raimi revealed a gift for merging the human and the fantastic, sustaining poignant love stories in the midst of horror and revenge. His talent is greater than this, but for now this will do.”

Catsoulis is an excellent writer and critic, but how come Scott and Dargis fobbed this one off?

  • This one’s a cracker. A few CG moments but they failed to pull me out of it. A serious amount of fun.

  • Floyd Thursby
  • Calraigh Bracken

    No idea, as this is surely right up Dargis’ Irony Alley.

    Besides, it’s an absolute joyride from the the first scene on and it never lets up. Lohman can take a close-up like nobody’s business and commands your attention throughout. The scream/ laugh hysterically reflex makes you feels slightly crazed after a while too but Jesus Christ is it enjoyable. Everybody at the preview I went to on Wednesday had a smile and a flush on their face when they were coming out. Nobody expected what they saw which is why I think it’s a sleeper, despite the heavy promo. The score alone and the main theme, just astounding.

    It is a little like being boxed in the ears repeatedly admittedly but I loved every fucking minute of it.

    And I hate Evil Dead!

  • MickTravisMcGee

    Hate Evil Dead all you want, but Evil Dead loves you.

  • JohnCope

    “Lohman can take a close-up like nobody’s business and commands your attention throughout.”

    Yeah, I’ve had great affection for her ever since the much mourned Pasadena. I hope this is the film that establishes her as a star. That would have happened already if it hadn’t been for that unfortunate detour through Egoyan’s Where the Truth Lies.

  • YRG

    The buzz alone will get me to see this as I skipped the trailer, assuming a generic horror (although, that was before I knew it was Raimi), but it will have to be the earliest matinee available because I can’t stand mainstream movie crowds these days.

    PS– what’s with movable type throwing an error on an accent character? Won’t let me spell matinee correctly…

  • Steven Kar

    Aren’t all crowds mainstream unless one was at a so-called art-house theatre watching a foreign film at 10 p.m.?

  • linus van pelt

    Be careful about anyone overhyping this. Sequences are great, but it doesn’t gel as a movie.

    Maybe it’s not fair to compare this to Jaws or Poltergeist — both those movies had bigger ambitions than noise machines like this one. But Spielberg grounded his horror in dilemmas that worked on a plot level AND a character level. Poltergeist’s real estate subplot (which feels more timely today than in 1982) is much better realized than the financial dilemma Lohman faces.

    And the relationship stuff with Justin Long is a huge snooze. Normally, you could write it off, but the movie spends SO MUCH time trying to get us to root for them as a couple, you can’t ignore it and it gets in the way of the scares.

    Part of it is the acting. Liam Neeson and Frances McDormand were much more believable as The Young Couple In Love in Darkman. Lohman mostly pulls it off, but Long is a mess. But the real failure, character-wise, is the script. It’s like the Raimis — as writers — learned all the wrong lessons from the Peter/Mary Jane scenes in the Spider-Man trilogy.

    Finally, the ending… one I’m probably in the minority on…

    *** MINOR SPOILER ***

    … but the last minute gotcha doesn’t land the way it should. For one thing, it’s telegraphed too damned early. But even worse, a movie like this needs a legitimate climax before it can play the Twilight Zone card. Raimi doesn’t earn the sucker-punch he so desperately wants.

    *** END SPOILER ***

    Go for the jolts. Laugh at how effective a director Raimi is. Cheer his return to B-movie fun. But don’t expect Evil Dead 2 or even Army of Darkness. Those were subversive, this is a “swallow your soul” greatest hits.

  • actionman

    DVD on this all the way for me

  • YRG

    wow, linus. you dampened the buzz for me. I may wait for DVD as well. And thanks for the spoiler warning. I’m surprised I was actually able to skip over it without reading any of it. must be from all the practice i get blocking out flash ads on websites…

  • Calraigh Bracken

    You’re dead right McGee.

  • moveable hype

    God bless Sam Raimi…

    *** MINOR SPOILER ***

    …He got away with scene that ends with an anvil dropping on someones head in the middle of a horror film….WTF was she doing with an anvil suspended on a rope and pulley system in her garage? Funny shit.

    ***END SPOILER***

    The seance seen did remind me of Evil Dead 2 in its style and tone.The first half of the movie is genuinely creepy but the second half the movie does go off the rails. Personally, I liked that but I have a feeling that will turn off some people.

  • bachelorcool

    Gobsmacked at the great reviews this got. It’s not scary, not gory, not anything except a pre-teen nod to Evil Dead. The kind of horror film where loud bangs are supposed to shock. A juvenile, suspense-less rip-off of Curse of the Demon.

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