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Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Drag Me to Hell

Back before the Spider-Man series, writer / director Sam Raimi was best known for the Evil Dead movies, in which monsters, gore and goop were flung about with thrilling abandon. Whether Raimi wanted a break from superhero antics or just felt it was time to show the current crop of dour torture-porn-obsessed horror directors how it's done, his latest film Drag Me to Hell is about as good a time as it's possible to have watching someone get their face chewed on my a slobbering, toothless old lady - which turns out to be a heck of a lot.

Bank loans officer Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) is under the pump from all directions to get ahead in her career. Her boyfriend's family think she's a loser, and if she doesn't get an upcoming promotion she'll be working for the smarmiest guy ever. So when an old gypsy woman comes in looking for a third extension to her home loan, she grits her teeth and knocks her back - even when the gypsy is begging on her knees. But what's good in the work of banking isn't quite so good outside in her car: the gypsy attacks (in the first of many battles that are cartoony over-the-top yet jump-in-seat scary) and ends up laying a curse that means in three days Christine will be dragged to Hell. And, thanks to a pre-opening credit sequence where we see a Mexican boy foolish enough to steal a gypsy's silver chain suffer the same fate, we know the gypsy's not messing around.

Big on slime and goo and people vomiting maggots but not on gore or anything truly nasty, this is a thrill-ride in the best sense of the word, with plenty of touches of sly humour to let you know you're in safe hands once people start getting possessed and spraying co-workers with blood. But be warned: if you're the kind of person who wonders why someone would have an anvil dangling from the ceiling of their back shed (making it oh-so-handy for dropping onto a ghoul's head), you're in the wrong cinema.

Anthony Morris (this review appeared in Forte #458)

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