SXSW: Sam Raimi Shows Off Drag Me To Hell!

By Josh Tyler 2009-03-16 02:56:29discussion comments
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Universal believes in Sam Raimi. While other studios this year begrudgingly brought their big, finished, blockbuster movies to SXSW and then slapped down press embargoes to prevent them from being discussed (watch for the hole in our coverage); Universal brought Raimiís Drag Me To Hell and blasted into the Paramount Theater unfinished; confident that no matter the format weíd all show up, love it, and then turn around and tell you how awesome it is. They were right. Here I am. Itís awesome.

Drag Me To Hell may still be a work in progress, but even as is itís one of the best horror movies this out-of-the-closet horror skeptic has seen this side of the new millennium. All the scary, fucked up shit you may have seen in the trailers or even in the now infamous Comic Con clips is just the tip of the boomstick. Raimi gets most of that out of the way in the first 20 minutes. Raimi breathes life into serial killer infested, dried up modern horror genre by showing you things youíve never, ever seen. Itís scary, itís gross, itís unbelievable how far heís willing to go. Even in the grittiest horror movies thereís always a line they canít cross. Drag Me To Hell stabs it, sacrifices it, buries it in the back yard, and then gets away with it by giving the audience a wink and a nod. You know whatís buried in the garden. Youíre in on the horrible horrible secret, thereís no reason to feel bad. Younger horror fans whoíve been raised on PG-13 Japanese horror retreads starring Jessica Alba are unprepared for what Raimi is about to unleash.

Since itís a work in progress, I donít think itís fair to critique Drag Me To Hell in depth. Though the film we saw appeared, except for a few very minor missing effects touch-ups, to be entirely complete, itís likely Raimi may make tweaks between now and the movieís May 29th release. Itís not perfect and thereís plenty of room for further improvement in the editing room. Justin Longís boyfriend character for instance, could use a little tweaking. Yet even if that doesnít happen, whatís here is badass.

Itís a simple, effective story told with style, wit, and a twisted, sometimes gloriously stomach-turning imagination. Alison Lohman plays a loan officer who makes the mistake of turning down a cranky old Gypsy. The Gypsy attacks her, curses her, and soon sheís under assault from evil spirits intent on quite literally dragging her straight to hell. Lohman isnít some helpless, idiot, slasher movie scream-fodder. Sheís not ready to be taken to Satan and the lengths to which sheíll go to avoid Hades are nearly as horrifying as the things being done to her by the gypsyís evil spirit cohorts. Seriously, youíve never seen this.

It would be criminal to tell you more, but for anyone wondering where the horror genre went wrong hereís the short answer: Sam Raimi started making Spider-Man movies. Heís back. Hail to the king, baby.
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