DRAG ME TO HELL
Review by Gordon Justesen
Lohman, Justin Long, Lorna Raver, Dileep Rao, David Paymer, Adriana Barraza
Director: Sam Raimi
Audio: DTS HD 5.1, DTS HD 2.0
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Shout Factory
Features: See Review
Length: 99 Minutes
Release Date: February 13, 2018
“You tricked me, you black hearted who-o-o-o-o-ore!!!”
Although director Sam Raimi officially closed the book, so to speak, to his Evil Dead series with 1993’s Army of Darkness, Drag Me to Hell could certainly serve as more than a companion piece to his famed horror trilogy. It had been fifteen years since Raimi had directed a horror movie, having spent that time making a western, a morality tale involving money, a baseball movie and three little movies about a boy and his spidey suit. In short, Drag Me to Hell is the film die hard Raimi fans have been waiting for, as it marks the director’s return to the horror genre…with a vengeance, I might add.
And all I can say is welcome back, Mr. Raimi, for he has delivered the single best fright flick in quite some time. It balances Raimi’s trademark campiness with endless, sensational scares. It takes a lot to get me jumping in my seat, and Drag Me to Hell made me do so a good five times, at least.
Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) is a loan officer at a Los Angeles bank who is all too eager to get the open assistant manager’s position. Her boss (David Paymer) tells her the job is only for someone unafraid to make the tough decisions that come with the job. She then attempts to demonstrate her willingness on her next customer, Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver), an elderly Gypsy woman who is unable to pay her mortgage.
When Christine makes the tough decision and turns her down, the old woman retaliates in a horrific manner. She places a curse on Christine, one that will have her plunging to the depths of hell in three days time. With time running out, she turns to both her boyfriend (Justin Long) and a local fortune teller (Dileep Rao), for help in ridding herself of the curse.
Once the essential premise is established, which doesn’t take long at all, Raimi basically fires on all cylinders and takes the audience on a high-wired, frequently scary and altogether fun ride of a fright-fest. Such memorable scenes include a showdown between Christine and Ganush in an underground parking garage, which has to be one of the most hilariously insane catfights ever caught on film. Many hallucinations come into play for our heroine, resulting in countless jump scares that are pulled off so incredibly well.
The screenplay, which he co-wrote with brother Ivan Raimi, is chock full of so many fantastical scary moments in the classic Raimi tradition. You get the sense while watching it play out that this is a movie he had wanted to make after years of making movies which, while not all bad (I still consider A Simple Plan his masterpiece), were very much outside his comfort zone. And this is the exact sort of thing die-hard Raimi fans needed after the ultra-disappointing Spider-Man 3.
To get the full entertainment value of Drag Me to Hell, you simply have to view it with a large group of friends. I have a feeling that this is one of those movies that will go onto become a huge party favorite amongst horror fans and teenagers. So many scenes here will garner priceless reactions from whoever watches it, and those are always best displayed in a large group of viewers who are just waiting to devour every scare.
I should also mention the fact that this is one of the few movies that illustrates that a PG-13 rating shouldn’t always be consider a kiss of death when it comes to scares. Mind you, Raimi was probably able to pull a few strings in the fright factor as a result of bringing in billions with the Spider-Man franchise. The bottom line here is that I felt scared more during this film than any recent R rated horror movie of recent memory, so that’s saying something.
With Halloween soon approaching, there couldn’t be a more fitting movie to set the mood of the season than Drag Me to Hell. It’s a pure return to form for one of the master filmmakers in horror cinema, and sure to give die hard horror fans everything they want in a true fright fest, especially one of the best final payoffs any scary movie has offered in the longest time. Without question, this will be a movie I’ll be revisiting every time around this spooky part of the year.
Shout Factory delivers another piece of Blu-ray perfection with this release. The picture is a frequent feast for the visual senses, with Raimi’s traditional outlandish camera angles and effects work coming to pristine, frightening life in the 1080p. Colors are also marvelous in the proceedings, and there is amazing detail to be found in literally every frame of the movie. A tremendously well handled presentation.
WOW! I saw this in theaters and was knocked out by the awesome sound quality that presided over the movie. And I’m happy to report that I had that same reaction while experiencing the movie in a phenomenal DTS HD 5.1 mix. Sound is toyed with many times throughout the film, allowing the jump scares to work perfectly and deliver the appropriate effect. In fact, this might be the most effective sound presentation of a scary movie I’ve experienced on Blu-ray thus far. Everything from music to sound effects to dialogue delivery is of the highest possible caliber in terms of what lossless audio can deliver!
Shout Factory gives this release a much needed boost in the extras department with this new 2-Disc release, complete with an awesome new cover art! Disc One contains the Theatrical Version, along with the main extra that accompanied Universal’s original Blu-ray, which is “Production Video Diaries”, hosted by a quite humorous Justin Long, runs a little over a half hour and covers multiple areas of the production, from various effects sequences to numerous set pieces and so on. It covers a lot of ground and is much better than the standard featurette we’re used to seeing. Also included is a Theatrical Trailer.
Disc Two features the Unrated Version (which I highly prefer between the two) and some brand new and tremendously informative interview pieces. The first is titled “To Hell and Back" with actress Alison Lohman, the second is “Curses” with co-star Lorna Raver, and the third is “Hitting All the Right Notes” with composer Christopher Young. Rounding out the extras is a still gallery.
With Drag Me to Hell, Sam Raimi has officially made a monstrous return to the genre that made him the sensational filmmaker he is today. It’s one of the most scary movies to come around in the past decade, HANDS DOWN! And this new release from Shout Factory is, without question, a must own release!