I had the pleasure of seeing an early test screening of Sam Raimi’s new film, Drag Me To Hell this past week at a super secret viewing in Burbank, California. It was a rough copy to say the least, which was announced to the audience before the start of the film, but I didn’t care. I’ve been a fan of Raimi’s since his original foray into horror with Evil Dead so my excitement and anticipation was hard to contain.
Drag Me To Hell is a cautionary tale about a young, ambitious girl, Christine (Alison Lohman) who is forced to choose between helping an old woman or furthering her career in banking. If you’ve already guessed that Christine ends up deciding to help herself then you probably could have written the rest of this movie.
The old woman, Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver) curses Christine for shaming her in front of the entire bank after begging for help. This takes place in a parking garage and is arguably the best example of Raimi’s ability to scare, shock and amuse his audience. I found myself terrified for Christine but laughing out loud uncontrollably.
Once the curse is completed things begin to go terribly wrong for Christine. After a visit to a local psychic she realizes the severity of her curse. She will die within three days and be dragged to hell if the curse is not lifted. Christen races to Mrs. Ganush to beg forgiveness, but finds the old woman has died. With little to no resources she begs for help from the psychic as the nightmare of the curse becomes worse with each passing day.
At the end of the second day, it is revealed to Christine that in order to get rid of the curse she must transfer it to another person. With no options left, Christine understands she can only save herself by transferring the horrific curse onto an innocent person, but will she be able to bring herself to do it?
Overall the film wasn’t bad, but I found myself wondering when things would become scarier or funnier. It’s like Raimi was having trouble maintaining the balance he once mastered with the Evil Dead films. I think the intersection of gross humor and terror never really met in a way that maintained an equilibrium between the two. I was constantly wondering if I was missing something because I was never really scared and never entirely amused either. The film was slightly off the mark for me, but still worth the price of admission. Maybe there will be some fine tuning between now and its release date.
Drag Me to Hell is scheduled to open on May 29, 2009.