Friday, May 29, 2009

Drag Me To Hell


That was the first thing that passed through my head when the titles for Drag Me To Hell got slammed up on the screen after the opening scene.

"Wow! That was so incredibly awesome!"

That was the first thing that passed through my head when the titles for Drag Me To Hell got slammed up on the screen after the final scene.

If you like movies, at all, you owe it to yourself to see this on the big screen if you get a chance. Since you're almost assured to plunk down your hard earned cash for some really bad movies every year, and probably this summer, you owe it to yourself to make sure you get your money's worth out of your theater going experience when you get the chance. This is one of those chances. We have remakes and sequels galore waiting in the wings for us to lament and skewer for their utter ineptitude. Take the chance while you've got it to get into a theater and watch something so incredibly drunk and giddy on it's own wild enthusiasm to just have a blast for an hour and a half in the way only a movie seen in theaters can produce. This is a film made specifically for the theater going experience.

I don't say that to mean you have to be there to see the special effects on the big screen. I don't say it because like so many of the summer blockbusters, it's just so big and loud you can't get the recreate the same experience on a home theater, no matter how high the quality. I say because of those things and because you need to see this movie with other people. Yes, sometimes seeing a movie in a theater full of other people really sucks. Someone's on the phone, someone won't shut up, the jerk in front of you is text messaging through half of it (so your brain by it's very design wants to look at the bright blue light instead of the screen), all of this is true. But, Drag Me To Hell is worth all of that, because those people will be completely unable to do all of that while this movie is going on. It's going to reach out and grab them by the hair and scream, "NOT TODAY BUDDY! WE'RE GOING TO HELL ON A BULLET TRAIN AND YOU'RE NOT GOING TO BE ABLE TO MISS A SECOND OF IT" It's H.P Lovecraft on amphetamines. There's something dark, nasty and foreboding out there, but it's not waiting for you or stalking you, it's not your own sense of dread playing tricks on you. The dark and foreboding thing is howling with laughter while it drags you out the door and all the way to hell.

Sam Raimi (to some of us will always be the man who made The Evil Dead trilogy), best known to most people as the director of the Spiderman trilogy has crafted an intensely fun, dizzily fast paced, utterly accepting of it's own silliness, thrilling, fright flick. I say fright flick very purposefully. This really isn't a horror film in the way we've traditionally come to understand them. There's little to no blood and body parts. It's not mean and nasty. It's not sadistic or perverse. It's not subversive. But it's going to have you jumping out of your seat on multiple ocassions if I'm any indicator. There are a few seriously gross moments, but they have as much in common with a Will Ferrell or Borat gross out as they do with a Quentin Tarantino or Eli Roth (the director of Hostel) gross out. I'm not going to spoil it, but there were two particular things I've never seen before which struck me as having come from a place of only the most inspired lunacy. Do I laugh or do I say "EEEEWWWW"? Hopefully, both.

Drag Me To Hell practically dares you to try and take it too seriously and not have a good time. It does so in the same way a good friend who knows you've been working too hard or studying too much would say, "C'mon already, it's not going to kill you to just have some fun for a few hours," and actually knows how what to do so you do have fun.

It's not going to be a classic film in the sense of being an "important" film. It's not something they're going to be showing in film classes in twenty years. It will however be a film for movie fanatics, and it will probably last a pretty long time. Twenty years from now, when some teenager reaches thirteen or fourteen and his or her love for film has really taken off, someone who knows this, and understands it is going to say, "you should really see Drag Me To Hell," and either give them a copy or tell them how to find one. This is not going to be the kind of film which is taken seriously because of the weight of the subject matter, the incredible level of intellect or emotional layering involved, but because it's a film which is completely committed to and successful at just being a frighteningly good time. There's no artifice, no pretensions and it works. If you're not a fan horror films, Drag Me To Hell is still a fun movie because it never takes it's frights or it's gross outs too seriously, and it's not in that self referentially comedic way which has become so commonplace and overdone in the last decade. It's just a funny, high speed bullet train of a fright flick, with no ulterior motives. It's completely drunk on the idea of just being that and reveling in that, and I really believe that's the reason it works so well.

My hat is off to Sam Raimi, and I'm sorry this wasn't a more financially successful film. It seems he may still go down in history as the director of the Spiderman films, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I thought the first two Spiderman films were great films, but I also think Raimi is talented enough to deserve the credit to be remembered as a great film maker, not just the director of one series of films. I also get the feeling we still haven't seen the best of what Mr. Sam Raimi has to offer. I hope I'm right about that, because if I am, we're all in for a treat.