- Released Internationally on 27/05/09
- Released in Malta by KRS on 17/06/09
In a nutshell
Back in the 80s, director Sam Raimi gained fame and acclaim for his old-fashioned yet inventive and highly amusing horror films. After turning his attention towards the Spider-Man trilogy over the past decade, he now returns to a script he had penned over 20 years ago, and gives us a healthy dose of horror nostalgia.
Ah yes, that
As I detailed in my The Strangers review last summer, horror is not exactly my cup of tea. However, personal fears aside, it's usually very easy and obvious to distinguish between a good horror film and one of the many, many bad ones. Some horror films are simply that - films to generate horror and frights, while others actually have a story to tell, albeit a spine-chilling one. Thankfully, although this particular offering will probably leave many viewers with a disgusting taste in their mouth, it fits firmly into the latter category.
Who's in it?
Director Sam Raimi's Evil Dead trilogy culminated in the hugely entertaining Army of Darkness in 1992, making his lead Bruce Campbell a cult hero and seamlessly combining horror and humour. He then conquered the worldwide box-office by revamping the Spider-Man franchise, and has to date given us another great trilogy, with a fourth instalment in the pipeline.
Alison Lohman (Matchstick Men, Big Fish) stars as Christine Brown, the girl who's average in every department except luck and projected lifespan. After refusing to extend a loan for a gypsy woman (Lorna Raver) she soon realises that she has crossed the wrong old lady, and with the support of her boyfriend Clay (Justin Long, Live Free or Die Hard) she must try to shake off the ancient curse cast upon her. She has 3 days to do so, or else she will be quite literally dragged to hell, as has happened to a few unlucky individuals over the centuries. In her desperation, she goes from getting advice from a seer (Dileep Rao, from TV’s Brothers and Sisters) to other, rather less lady-like acts, but will understandably stop at nothing to avoid her infernal fate.
Smells like the 90s
When Raimi decided to return to a script that had laid dormant since the early nineties, co-written by him and his brother Ivan, he seems to have decided to fashion his film as if he was making it back then. From the old 'Universal' logo that precedes the main titles, to the overall look and feel of the film, this stands out from the numerous horror films that have been assaulting our screens over the past few years.
Raimi has no qualms with using old clichés to unseat his audience – scary toothless old hags, inclement weather, bodily fluids, the occult, and even a grand rain-swept finale in a graveyard. Some parts might come across as too crude for today’s viewers, but then again the intended audience have seen far worse recently. The cemetery climax is a standout scene, full of gothic imagery and over-the-top sounds and visuals. The few scenes that resort to computer visual effects are unfortunately equally crude, but it’s not clear whether this too was intentional, or simply due to budget restrictions.
In the end
Sound of Music this is not, but neither is it a senseless sequence of killings and frights. It doesn’t take itself seriously, which adds immensely to its overall feeling of horror fun. Right up to the ground-moving finale, this just might make you grin as much as you squirm.
http://www.apple.com/trailers/universal/dragmetohell/ (High-res QuickTime)