Not only does Sam Riami still “got it,” Drag Me To Hell shows he’s even better than before. After taking a long break from horror thanks to his work on the Spider-Man film series, among other movies, Riami returns to his horror roots in the staggeringly entertaining Drag Me To Hell. I can’t think of a movie this year that hasn’t been more hilarious, more gruesome, more chilling, and just flat-out fun than Drag Me To Hell. One of the most under-appreciated movies of the year, Riami’s horror opus finally claws onto DVD and Blu-ray where, not doubt, it’ll find the massive audience it truly deserves.
Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) is on her way to having it all: a devoted boyfriend (Justin Long), a hard-earned job promotion, and a bright future. But when she’s forced to make a tough decision that evicts an elderly woman from her house, Christine becomes the victim of an evil curse. Now she has only three days to dissuade a dark spirit from stealing her soul before she is dragged to hell for an eternity of unthinkable torment. Director Sam Riiami returns to the horror genre with a vengeance in the film critics rave as the most crazy, fun and terrifying horror movie in years!
Words can’t describe how enjoyable and flat-out great Drag Me To Hell is. Whether you enjoy a good jump or love a laugh, this movie pretty much has everything you could ever want in a Sam Raimi movie. This really seems like movie Riami has been wanting to do for quite some time, and now, thanks to a little break from the Spider-Man film series, he shows us that he hasn’t lost his touch when it comes to unleashing a wicked stylish horror romp. And yes, the movie may be rated PG-13, and “14A” in Canada, but the film doesn’t lose anything with the low rating. In fact, it goes to show that just because a horror movie gets that dreaded “PG-13” stamp, it doesn’t meant it has to be a stinker. And folks, Drag Me To Hell is no stinker, and easily ranks as one of the best movies from summer 2009, and one of the best fright-fests of the year.
By no means is the plot original by any means, or even multi-layered, but it’s still just a thrilling ride that provided enough details to get the ball rolling on the ensuing torture bestowed upon our fair heroine. Once that curse kicks in, it becomes one helluva ride for both the character herself and the audience. Surprisingly, despite the pretty simple story, Christine still foregoes a pretty lengthy story-arc as she attempts to circumnavigate the inevitable. The supporting characters are pretty thinly sketched out, but Christine has plenty to work with here. Whether she’s fighting off a deranged gypsy or doing battle with her own furniture, she is put through quite a bit and, remarkably, she holds up for every bit of Raimi’s famed tormenting. She manages to keep her poise throughout and, both as an actress and character, seems stronger for it once she reached the end of it all.
There’s something almost classic about this movie. Maybe it’s the retro Universal logo that kicks off the movie, but Drag Me To Hell feels akin to the type of movie we’d get before the likes of Saw and Hostel influenced a wave after wave of torture porn and like-minded horror flicks. Sure, we did get a few good ones out of it and all, and it amped up the gore factor considerably for those who dig it, but Drag Me To Hell feels so…welcome. It reminds me when horror movies were more about the scare (and even the story) than buckets of blood heaped at the camera. It’s also a great reminder that Riami can produce one hell of a movie when he’s given creative freedom.
You just have to give credit for what Raimi is able to accomplish here. He’s able to mix in all the standard scares and gross-out moments with an ongoing ominous sense throughout the entire movie. That, at any moment, something horrible is bound to go wrong. No matter where, no matter what, anything can happen, and it’s been a long time since a movie had such a sense of unpredictability. And, boy, does Raimi ever take advantage of that, right up to the final moments. We do get a few moments of heaping fountains of blood and gore, but it’s usually played in such a way that it comes off as more hilarious than actually revolting and disturbing. Still, everything seems to meticulously planned out with Raimi, with nothing feeling extraneous or excessive. Sure, things do get a tad goofy here and there, but it all works in the confines of the movie. It’s Evil Dead, but for today’s audience.
It’s worth noting that the “Unrated Director’s Cut” version included on both the DVD and Blu-ray does add on a little bit more in terms of blood and gore. Personally, I prefer the “Theatrical” version also thankfully included here, but those looking for some more “Unrated” extras should be appeased.
Drag Me To Hell is just an awesome movie. I know that’s not the most articulate thing to say concerning a movie, but that’s just the best way to describe the overall experience this movie provided. For those who feared years of mega-blockbusters have cooled off Raimi, fear not! Drag Me To Hell is just prime, epic Raimi film-making from beginning to end. It’s fun, it’s scary, it’s chilling, and it’s just flat-out fun from beginning to end. Sure it’s not perfect, but any flaws either have no impact or are deftly hidden by the amazing production values and energetic directing. In fact, this will likely end up cited as one of Raimi’s best films. Sure, Drag Me To Hell may not have hit all the notes that many were hoping for, particularly that of an R-rated gore-fest, but the ratings doesn’t matter in the slightest here. Raimi uses his seemingly unending talent to get around the PG-13 rating with one of the gooiest, funniest, visceral, and just tension-filled joyrides to hit the screen in a long, long time. I have no doubt this movie will reinvigorate those tired by how stale the horror genre has become. Drag Me To Hell is pure unadulterated carnage, and is definitely deserving of the Highly Recommended stamp.
Featuring both the theatrical and unrated cut of the movie, as mentioned above, Drag Me To Hell: Unrated Director’s Cut presents both included editions in fine fashion for this new Universal Home Entertainment DVD release. The DVD quality is surprisingly sharp and clear, aided with a strong immersive Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.
As strong as the audio and video transfer remains for this release, the bonus features are a bit of a let down. “The Production Diaries” is the only real bonus content included here, collecting 35 minutes worth of featurettes highlighting on-set footage and interviews. It’s a solid bit of information, don’t get me wrong, but I would have like to have heard more from Raimi about his return to horror here with Drag Me To Hell, either in the form of a commentary or additional bonus content. Still, we get a hint of what unbridled enthusiasm from the cast and crew on the set, which gives me hope for more in-depth bonus materials down the line. With two versions of the film included on this release, it is understandable why the bonus features are light, but this is one film that really does deserve a more detailed “special edition” release.
In terms of both the main feature and the package itself, I would definitely give Drag Me To Hell: Unrated Director’s Cut the Recommended stamp. True, the supplements are lacking here, but this is one of those rare releases that is able to skirt by thanks to the sheer strength of the main feature. Plus, with two different versions to choose from, the theatrical and the unrated, watching both within close proximity to each other can result in some interesting debate over which version is superior (theatrical). Regardless of which one you prefer, Drag Me To Hell is a superbly crafted movie that will not only go down as one of Raimi’s best, but will definitely enjoy a second life on the home video shelf for years to come. It’s a flat-out fun fright-fest, easily ranking as one of the best horror films from the past few years. Make no mistake, Drag Me To Hell is one worth owning and revisiting time and time again.
Drag Me To Hell: Unrated Director’s Cut arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on October 13th, 2009.
Images from Drag Me To Hell, coming to DVD and Blu-ray on October 13th, 2009.
Click on the images for a closer look!
Universal Studios Home Entertainment Canada has also passed along the following details on an upcoming free screening of Drag Me To Hell: Unrated Director’s Cut.
Halloween is just around the corner, and there’s nothing better than a late-night horror flick to send chills down your spine!
In celebration of the release of Drag Me to Hell on DVD and Blu-ray Hi-Def™, Bloor Cinema will be presenting a free late-night screening of the Unrated Director’s Cut on behalf of Universal Studios Home Entertainment Canada.
Date: Tuesday, October 13th 2009 at 9:30 pm
Location: Bloor Cinema – 506 Bloor Street West, Toronto – (416) 516-2331 – www.bloorcinema.com
Seating is on a first-come, first-seated basis – so get there early!.