It's been quite a light posting week. It seems my body has been taken over by the soul of someone fabulous and in high demand. I've had things to do, y'all! What an odd sensation. But I did manage last night to see Drag Me to Hell, the Sam Raimi-written and directed horror film that I've been looking forward to for weeks. I'm starved for a good horror flick. They just don't make them like they used to. And if I have to sit through another Hills Have Eyes-style remake foisted upon us by people who don't think you need an imagination to make movies, I'm going to pluck my eyeballs out and eat them with Marmite. (Incidentally, they're also remaking the film that is my standard answer to the question "What is the most disturbing thing you've ever seen?": Last House on the Left. Is it just me or are the horror films people seem most eager to remake those with long, elaborate, almost celebrated scenes featuring the rape and torture of women?)
But Drag Me To Hell feels new, fresh and exciting from the get-go. It's comedy-horror at its finest: even the parts that are clearly meant to be (slightly) camp and hilarious still kinda scare the crap out of you. And Raimi is not afraid of using gore and bodily fluids to up the ew factor, and as a metaphor for the ugliness of evil. He does this masterfully. The spewing forth is not gratuitous; it is integral to the image of just how base Raimi's imagined underworld really is, and of the extent to which it represents the worst, most horrifying alternative reality we might imagine.
Everything in the film is sharp and largely-drawn. The dialogue is crisp, snappy and economical, mirroring Raimi's entire approach to this film: nothing in excess. The backgrounds and props - doors, tables, buildings, natural surroundings - are all expertly used and personified to create the terror and drama of the story. Characters are kept to a necessary core, and the casting is more than credible: Alison Lohman is the wide-eyed innocent and central victim Christine Brown, who is at once vulnerable and hilarious (there's not much ha-ha in the dialogue, but Lohman's face and delivery are made for comedy, and manage to convey the absurdity of a scenario with no need for the spoken word); Justin Long surprised me at first as Brown's doting partner Clay, especially since his mumbling smugness tends to get on my nerves, but then I got it: Clay needed to be funny enough to carry the comedic content, but taken seriously enough that his problem-solving ability and commitment to Christine could drive the drama. So subtle rather than bumbling comedy was necessary. And Long does this well.
The best thing Raimi could have done for this story, and did...um...do, was not to prolong its brlliant conclusion. So in keeping with that spirit, I'm not going to prolong this assessment either. Go watch this film: it's a wonderful, fresh, neatly-packaged little horror flick that you'll be glad you saw on the big screen.