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It’s no secret around these parts that I’m not exactly a horror fan. Most modern horror is either blood pornography or badly executed crap constructed by focus groups. Slasher flicks have never done it for me and the last time I was really and truly scared by something it was probably directed by a guy named Hitchcock. Yet now, for the first time in a long time, I’m excited about a horror movie.
The movie in question is Sam Raimi’s return to the horror genre with a flick called Drag Me To Hell. He showed up at the San Diego Comic Con with his cast in tow. Sam Raimi Alison Lohman, Justin Long, and Dileep Rao were all on hand to give the massive audience in Hall H a first look at his film… and wow did they deliver.
The title alone ought to be enough to get anyone interested, but if that didn’t do it for you then just wait until you start seeing footage. The panel opened with a look at the first trailer for the film. The trailer did a capable job of setting up this thing as the story of a girl who pisses off an old woman and ends up cursed. It’s atmospheric and filled with those trademark Raimi comedy moments none of his films would be right without. There’s a chilling moment in the trailer when Alison Lohman screams “something is coming for me!” and you can almost feel whatever it is breathing down her neck. The tagline is great too: “Even good people can go to hell” I’ll be damned if that didn’t seem to be exactly where Alison Lohman was going.
But Raimi really started to knock our socks off when he rolled an extended clip from the flick. To set it up, he had to explain a little of the plot. Alison Lohman’s character denies an old woman a loan. The old lady, humiliated, wants revenge. The clip picks up with Alison in an underground garage, trying to get in her car. You’ve seen this scene in every horror movie. Girl alone in a parking garage, walking towards her car, hears a noise, sees something ominous, tries to get her door open and can’t get her key to work. Raimi plays with this pretty standard horror movie conceit, and then takes a right turn with it. Alison struggles to get in her car, looks scared, we watch as she fumbles her keys and finally slides into her seat, slams the door… and nothing happens. She looks as surprised as we are, and then sits there looking out the front window as across the parking lot… and old handkerchief floats towards her blown by the wind.
And that’s where things get weird. It’s the scariest fucking hanky you’ve ever seen in your life. It’s not doing anything, just being blown towards the car on the wind… but you’re frightened, scared to death of this evil goddamn piece of cloth and you have absolutely no idea why. And as a final gust of wind blows it into the windshield you suddenly find yourself screaming, wondering what sort of unholy hellish terror this little square of cloth is going to unleash on this poor girl… and then again, nothing happens.
Of course that’s when the old lady strikes. She’s in the back seat and she attacks Lohman with the ferocity of a half-crazed, rabid, mountain lion. There’s nothing special about her. She’s not magical, she’s just this frail little old lady who has gone completely insane and starts beating the shit out of a woman ¼ her age. Lohman fights back and what follows is the most insane, over the top, brutal fight scene you’ve ever seen in car, full of clawing and screaming and ripping and even some brutal stapling. That’s right, stapling. It’s shocking, scary, and all at once bizarrely funny watching this little old hag rain down holy hell on Lohman’s character. Their fight goes on and on, entertaining in the way only an over the top Sam Raimi fight ever could be, until finally the clip ended.
That was just five minutes of the movie, I can’t wait to see the rest. Keep an eye out for Drag Me To Hell. Sam Raimi hasn’t directed a horror movie since The Gift in 2000, and it looks like he’s planning to make this one count.