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Drag Me to Hell - Blu-ray Review



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Sam Raimi is back and Drag Me to Hell is the proverbial horse that carries him back home to the horror house. The director of The Evil Dead trilogy and cult favorites such as Darkman, The Quick and the Dead, A Simple Plan, The Gift and even For the Love of the Game, returns to the genre that earned him so much respect and street credibility. Much like the prodigal son in that biblical yarns of old, Raimi steps away from the formulaic insta-star successes of the Spider-Man films - with some humility from the critical bashing and fan tongue-lashing of the third film - with a fresh new film that somewhat captures the spirit of the Raimi we love and miss. And, yet, while returning to the genre that made him so loved among cine-files, he accomplishes with Drag Me to Hell something that no other film he has previously completed has ever done - he scares the hell out of you.

Raimi's Drag Me to Hell, co-written by his brother and long time screenwriting partner Ivan Raimi, starts off with a horrific jolt as it sets in motion a nightmarish tale about a gypsy curse concerning the Lamia, a goat-like demon bent on delivering the owner of any cursed object straight to hell. The beginning set in a beautifully decorated Spanish home - is certifiably classic Raimi gusto with swift cuts and hyperkinetic â"push-pull" zooms as the hidden Lamia attacks those around the cursed child and then, ultimately, the child himself. This stylized beginning sets the stage for the rest of the film to unfold across and serves as the film's location for its climax; it's a nice reminder of Raimi's use of manic camera work in large, open spaces.

Drag me to HellThe real story then shifts to present day and we are introduced to Christine Brown, played (with a slight nod to the acting styles Bruce Campbell) by Alison Lohman who, surprisingly because she is perfect in the role, was an 11th hour substitute for Juno star Ellen Page. Christine is a little withdrawn, a little insecure, but is up for a big promotion at the bank where she works and finds herself competing for a desired position with an ass-kissing co-worker who does a great job of earning the boss's trust while losing everyone else's around him. In the heated competition for the job, Christine is forced to make a snap decision concerning the property of an elderly Slavic woman, Mrs. Ganush, hauntingly and memorably played by Lorna Raver, and denies her another extension. The woman is driven to beg Christine for her home and in awkward fashion is escorted out by security. The two meet again in a parking garage sequence that is pure Raimi and one of the film's many highlights. As a result of the crazy and comical confrontation, Mrs. Ganush brings the Lamia curse upon Christine and the horrors as well as the laughs are released upon the audience.

There are some goreshly great sequences throughout Drag Me to Hell and, obviously, there are images that will haunt and scare and twist and tease the imagination and that is the key to the success of this film as Raimi seems once again inspired by the material and his imagination is as grand as that of a child's... mind you a child who knows what the hell he is doing behind the camera. The film is a full blown funhouse thrill of a ride and makes for a great treat for horror hooligans and fans of The Evil Dead trilogy (as there are several tongue-in-cheek references to those films sprinkled throughout the film).

Unfortunately, Drag Me to Hell is not quite Raimi let loose behind the camera (call me stubborn, but I, for one, want a complete return to form from this man not a tempered attempt at past successes), it does capture elements missing from Raimi in the Spider-Man series. In my opinion, Spider-Man comes across as Raimi waltzing through a field of roses when he should be charging like a bull through it. Hopefully, with the critical reception of Drag Me to Hell, Raimi will relax a little with Spider-Man 4 and put his trademark seal on the film, both visually and with the camera work. That being said, I will take Drag Me to Hell over anything else labeled as a true â"horror" film any day of the week; it is refreshing and funny and packed with gnarly visuals that will have you laughing one second and screaming the next. Is it hyperkinetic? At times, yes. Does it have first person shots from fast moving objects that Raimi used to give his audience? Sadly, no. Does it entertain even the most doubtful of viewers? Most certainly it does. But is it terrifying? Hell, yes, dear readers, and now, to quote the movie, you should find yourself a movie-going partner and go â"get some."


Component Grades
Movie
DVD
4 stars
3 Stars
DVD Experience
3.5 stars

Blu-ray

DVD Details:

Screen Formats: 2.40:1

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish.

Language and Sound: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Spanish: DTS 5.1 French: DTS 5.1.

Should you choose to view the unrated version you will get about 10 seconds of footage (the killing of the kitten) that really adds nothing and, in fact, takes away from the film. Indeed, this is a disappointing release for the movie.

Supplements:

Commentary:

Featurettes:

Number of Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc Two-disc set Digital copy BD-Live D-Box.

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