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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Review – Drag Me To Hell

I don

34 Responses to “Review – Drag Me To Hell”

  1. I actually think that the picture would work best when viewed on a basic cable station at 2am in the morning. Drag Me to Hell is certainly a jump out of your seat good time as a theatrical experience, but I’d only imagine that it would have scared the hell out of me if I had seen it when I was nine, on Channel 43 at 1am in the morning as I struggled to stay awake to see what happened next.
    Apologies for cutting/pasting from my review, but it tied into what DP was talking about at the end. I liked it, but not nearly as much as some of the reviews I’m reading. My wife loved it, but she’s the reason I sat through Mega Shark Vs. Giant Octopus if you get my drift. Actually, I saw the film at a test screening a couple months ago. It was the final cut and it looked mainly finished, but it was a completely rough print, with a fuzzy, uncorrected image. Point being, considering how much the movie feels like a 1980s cheesefest, I think I enjoyed the movie more with its rough, looks like a late night basic cable movie look than I would have had I seen it in glorious 2.35:1 scope.
    From what I’ve heard, there wasn’t much cut out to achieve the PG-13, as that’s what’s Raimi was going for in the first place (not that it’ll stop Universal from somehow creating an ‘unrated cut’).

  2. Krazy Eyes says:

    This review kinda reminds me of Raimi’s entire post-Evil Dead (the first one, and only the first one) career. Humor and horror are a hard mix to pull off correctly and I don’t think Raimi is particularly good at walking that line.

  3. Rothchild says:

    I can’t think of a moment or scene that would have greatly benefited from being R. I went in thinking it would be neutered, but it’s not at all.

  4. bluelouboyle says:

    Yeah, swallowing gallons of used embalming fluid is just as bad – if not worse – than swallowing blood.
    Movie wasn’t perfect, but it was – along with Crank 2 – the best time I’ve had in a cinema all year,

  5. movieman says:

    ….had a great time, but I kept getting these deja vu flashbacks to my misbegotten youth when B-and-proud-of-it movies like “Drag Me” were the unheralded (and often superior) bottom half of drive-in double bills.
    In fact, next weekend’s Universal release (“Land of the Lost”) would have made a particularly apt headliner.
    Lure the kiddies in with slapstick comedy and dinosaurs, then freak them out with the scary-as-shit co-feature.
    Reminds me of the time I saw this creepy British horror flick (whose title escapes me) paired with “The Three Stooges Go Around the World in a Daze” at an old downtown movie palace when I was maybe five years old. Thing gave me nightmares for months afterward, and I didn’t remember a thing about the Stooges movie, then or now.

  6. CleanSteve says:

    Best time I’ve had this year, too. It’s a funhouse ride.It’s slight, no doubt, and sort of a lateral move for Raimi (when we know based on A Simple Plan he has the chops for something major).
    The ads did suck, though. They played up Raimi and as said elsewhere that was only for the geeks (me). If it had not been Raimi I would have skipped it rather than hitting a 1pm matinee opening day.But on the positive side at least for once the best parts were NOT in the trailer. This may help word of mouth. It might have legs as soon as kids are out of school.
    Maybe it’s being over-praised as a reaction to the long painful glut of crap us horror fans have complained about: lazy torture porn, remakes, sequels. 98% garbage. So despite the fact it’s “minor Raimi,” the fact that it is FUN and FAST as opposed to the other garbage is leading to people overrate it.
    Honestly, from the standpoint of a horror fan, it’s only going to get better as soon as some studio has the balls to put a good product against these insipid SAW movies, beats it, stops this horrid, horrid series. Something has to give there.
    Oh, and please release TRICK R’ TREAT someday.

  7. Hallick says:

    “Justin Long reminds us, not happily, that he isn

  8. leahnz says:

    ‘Justin Long’s never been (and never will be) the “movie star”; but he’s still the guy that made movies like Die Hard 4, Dodgeball, and Jeepers Creepers a whole lot better for his presence.’
    here, here, hallick, i second that (i LOVE ‘jeepers’, and justin was the perfect foil for willis’ grizzled mcclane in ‘die hardest’). justin is definitely ‘niche’ but in the bestest way

  9. movieman says:

    Loved Lohman (does this chick ever age? she looks the same as she did in “White Oleander” and “Matchstick Men” seven years ago) and liked Drew’s ex well enuf. My only complaint–if it’s even a complaint; probably more of an observation–is that both seemed a tad young for their “professional” characters.
    Not sure how young (or old) Lohman and Long really are, but they still look like (college) undergrads to me. Bless those genes, kids, cause they’re not gonna lost forever.
    Hey Lex: you’ve (frequently) commented on Lohman’s hotness. Did you ever see her in Atom Egoyan’s NC-17 rated “Where the Truth Lives”? Not great Egoyan by any stretch, but certainly interesting. And unquestionably erotic in a Canuck-perv sort of way.

  10. leahnz says:

    ‘drew’s ex’ – lol, movieman (those two crazy kids made a cute couple, i was rooting for them, but love is a fickle beast). i agree, i haven’t seen ‘drag me’ yet and likely won’t for some time, but from the previews lohman appears not to have aged a day since my beloved ‘matchstick’

  11. PastePotPete says:

    Raimi said he only cut 7 seconds to get the PG-13, so that unrated cut people are waiting for will probably not be worth it.

  12. tjfar67 says:

    Good B movie fun. The crowd was really with the movie. I’d like to see Sam Raimi do a balls out horror film without the humor. There are a couple scenes in the first half that work really well at being creepy and suspenseful. Horror and suspense doesn’t have to be gross to work.
    Possible spoiler-
    I would love to been in the meeting when Mr Raimi got the money to film the anvil in the garage scene. Really? An anvil suspend by rope and pulley in the garage? She must rent from Wild E Coyote. I’m not complaining. I love that kind of stupid crap when the director pulls it off so well, you don’t realize how ridiculous it is when it is happening.
    End spoiler.

  13. leahnz says:

    ‘…and dead sexy in a way that Alan Ball & Co are working their asses off, push-uping and tight panting, to get Anna Paquin to in True Blood. (Don

  14. movieman says:

    Leah- I couldn’t agree with you more re: Paquin’s precocious sensuality in “True Blood.” No way did Ball ever intend to make Sookie into a–no pun intended–vamp-ish tart. That would be a complete betrayal of the character as originally described in the “TB” books.
    And I personally can’t wait for Season 2 (starting in, hurrah, 2 weeks). Is this–6 1/2 months–the shortest gap between seasons of an HBO series since they began their “original programming” nearly two decades ago? If so, merci boucoup.
    The typical wait between seasons on, say, “The Sopranos” or “Curb Your Enthusiasm” has always been maddening.

  15. movieman says:

    ….er, that shoulda been “merci beaucoup.”
    pardon moi.

  16. leahnz says:

    movieman, ‘precocious sensuality’ – perfect description

  17. Monco says:

    I liked Drag Me to Hell. It isn’t as good as any of the Evil Dead movies but it’s the most fun I’ve had at the movies this summer. I don’t see how the movie would have improved by an R rating. It’s not really scary but the evil dead movies weren’t either. The crowd I saw it with seem to enjoy it. It gave me just what I wanted on a Friday night at the movies – a fun time. Also, watching Alison Lohman didn’t hurt.

  18. Glenn Kenny says:

    An exemplary Poland review

  19. Blackcloud says:

    ^ And keep up the reflexive stupidity and douchebaggery.

  20. Lohman is 29, Long is 30. Movieman, not sure what your age is, but not all 30-year-old people in real life look 6′ moviestars. I like it when movies cast like that. If Lohman had an identical twin who worked at a bank like her DMtH character and I saw her I’d guess she was late 20s. It was the same in He’s Just Not That Into You with Ginnifer Goodwyn and Long. It’s probably just because most people I know in their late 20s aren’t the big muscular 6ft pretty boy moviestars that are routinely cast.

  21. chris says:

    Not endorsing Kenny’s mean-spirited bile in any way, but I do think that first sentence of the DP review is pretty inexcusable.

  22. David Poland says:

    I am beginning to worry about your inferiority complex, Glenn.
    I always knew you were minor, but your single-minded rage that you show up to unfurl, almost every time with no apparent goal but to make my validity as someone with an opinion the issue, is turning into a sad sideshow. I wonder why you would use up whatever reputation you have worked for to become another “what’s his problem with you?” caricature.
    Anyway… the only part that does offend me is your weird, must be about you, conclusion about what my description of Ms Lohman as sexy in this film means to me. I started writing about her playing roles much younger than her age going back to White Oleander and Matchstick Men. The presumption that, somehow, I am reacting to her looking under age missed my truth utterly. I can’t speak for you.

  23. jeffmcm says:

    To be fair to Glenn, not many writers would say, “I don’t have a huge amount to say” and then keep going for 500+ words.

  24. CaptainZahn says:

    Lohman is a lovely girl, but possibly not the sharpest tool in the shed. She didn’t know the movie was supposed to be funny until she watched it? http://www.terrorfeed.com/index.php?id=dragmetohell-lohman

  25. Hallick says:

    “To be fair to Glenn, not many writers would say, “I don’t have a huge amount to say” and then keep going for 500+ words.”
    And to be fair to David – hell, just to be realistic and factual – his writting the eqivalent to 3 or 4 regular-sized paragraphs doesn’t constitute a huge entry unless someone’s gotten accustomed to getting their movie reviews from Twitter 24/7.

  26. Amblinman says:

    I don’t quite understand all the euphoria over Drag. It’s fine for what it is but this is hardly some insanely great horror film. It was a cliff notes version of Raimi’s Evil Dead movies. I completely agree that an R rating wouldn’t have changed anything, the movie wasn’t designed to showcase a lot of gore if you really look at it. There’s some gross stuff, but it’s not a body-parts-being-ripped-off extravaganza or anything.
    I think the hangover on this one a few months down the line is going to be pretty severe. Lots of folks will watch the DVD and think “Wow…I remember this being so much better than it actually is.”

  27. Kinda sums up my feelings in a nutshell, really.

  28. martin says:

    As far as I can tell, it was made as a cheesy, throwback b-horror movie. That it’s fairly entertaining and well directed is a bonus. I doubt that Raimi and crew put as much thought into the film as some here are doing.

  29. LexG says:

    AWESOME.
    Hottest movie of the year… Seriously, the nonstop Lohman-lingering was INCREDIBLE, and it was pure sexiness how game this awesome actress was for being a sport about it all. Lohman in her yellow dress trying to impress Long’s parents, or better, in the rain all muddy and digging up the grave in the clinging T-shirt???? GIVE ME A B…
    Also, that late-night diner setpiece where she’s pondering who to give the button to was witty, touching, goofy, and cine-literate all in one… easily the best thing Raimi’s gone since ’98.
    GOOD MOVIE. Though perhaps appropriately, it pretty much evaporated from memory within 45 minutes, since I wouldn’t say it really transcends its unpretentious goals… but I’d still rank it among the more entertaining things this year.

  30. Maskatron says:

    Loved it. Don’t think it would have gained much if anything by being R-Rated. Judging by the reactions in the audience people were completely freaked out/grossed out by a lot of the scenes. The fact that he was able to achieve what he was with that rating is all the more impressive and interesting to me. Plus, there were some really ballsy choices made here that only a guy with Raimi’s clout could have gotten away with.

  31. frankbooth says:

    “I’d like to see Sam Raimi do a balls out horror film without the humor. There are a couple scenes in the first half that work really well at being creepy and suspenseful.”
    To this day, Raimi has never really fulfilled that potential, and I’ve been waiting since 1981. Maybe he just isn’t interested. But the beginning of Evil Dead showed an amazing feel for atmosphere and slow-building dread, and A Simple Plan revealed a facility for first-rate suspense in a non-supernatural setting.
    He has a great, non-comedic, suspense or horror — or suspense/horror — film in him. But again, maybe he’d rather play Three Stooges.
    Come to think of it, moviemnan, maybe Raimi was at that double-feature with you, at an impressionable age.

  32. christian says:

    Old skool Raimi RULEZ. And I thought this was a perfect summer horror/comedy blast. This is the kind of film audiences were made for, all of us audible and squirming in our seats. Raimi can direct a tiny set-piece (as when the Gypsy attacks the car) like no other director.

  33. jeffmcm says:

    Best movie I’ve seen all year. Disappointed it’s not making more money so far.

  34. LexG says:

    If Alison Lohman, Kristen Stewart and Evan Rachel Wood could all do a road movie together, it would be the greatest thing ever. I would literally EXPLODE with excitement, as they represent the Holy Trinity of wispy, smart, vaguely cynical, nonthreateningly earnest FEMALE AWESOMENESS.
    They should remake CROSSROADS with all three and cast me as a drunken, beer-necked Anson Mount.

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin