Oh, Moar Powah readers, there comes a time in every critic’s life when they lose all hope for the medium or hobby or topic they enjoyed talking about. Thankfully I haven’t hit that point in my career yet, but there are just some days when I feel like horror movies might be dead forever…and everyone cheering its demise.
Case in point, Sam Raimi’s 2009 major-let-down-critic-favorite Drag Me to Hell. And no, I’m not even going to try and make a good transition here, I just want to never speak of this film again.
Now, before we start, let me stop you guys from the obvious comment of “But that’s just Raimi’s style. It’s supposed to be weird and not-scary scary, etc. ” I’ve seen the Evil Dead movies, and they are amazing. This is not on the same level as an Evil Dead. It’s not even in the same universe. This is… just makes me hurt. There’s a difference between camp and sheer shock-value-stupid, and this movie is the latter.
I couldn’t care less about the plot of this garbage bag but I’ll sum it up quick. Christine pisses off an old, creepy as hell gypsy, by being a heartless, opportunistic little jerk and refusing to extend a mortgage payment. So, obviously, the old woman curses her like anyone else in that situation would do, and Christine starts seeing horrifying visions, and learns she will be dragged to Hell. Also, she murders a kitten.
And so we hit problem one – Christine is wholly unlikable. She’s a terrible person – she murders a kitten, is a selfish, crazy woman, who puts up this front of being a meek and shy but she’s really just a suck-up and a self-inflicting victim, who has no skills, no back bone, and is completely insincere. She’s not even fun to hate – she’s just an awful, flat character. And I know it seems like I’m asking much for in one character who only has two hours to exhibit a realistic character but making an awful character isn’t realistic!
I would talk about the other characters too…except there really isn’t much on them. There’s the boyfriend, the psychic, and the séance lady but overall they are in the movie for less than 10% of it each. The dead, old gypsy gets more screen time than the other living characters!
Problem two – grossing the audience out isn’t scary. Yes, it’s shocking and yes, people are going to scream and cover their eyes but cause no one likes vomit…I lied. SOME people like vomit, but most don’t. It’s cheap, lazy, and needlessly used – almost every major scary point involves some sort of disgusting bodily fluid or action or fake dead corpse. Gross things are shocking, Raimi, but they aren’t scary. It’s like overusing the jump scare – after the second time, I just expected it to happen all the time…and it did.
Problem three – you can see the ending coming from a mile away. It’s supposed to be “a twist” but anyone who’s ever seen a movie before can call this one. It’s either lazy, or satirical. If it’s the first, then that’s awful, and if it’s the second, they didn’t set it up in a way that would lead me to believe that. I just wish that they had something, anything, original with the ending instead of literally falling into the cliché.
Problem four – This is an ugly movie, and when I say that, I don’t mean it’s a badly shot film, or that I’m opposed to all the vomit. It’s got a really ugly color scheme, the scenes literally feel grimy, and dingy. There are some bright colors that make the scenes pop in the beginning, but by the end, it just degrade until the final scenes. It might have been a conscious choice for mood, but it didn’t really change anything for me, sad as that is.
And finally, problem five – nothing is resolved and no one cares. Nothing happens in this movie. The plot might as well have looked like this: Jerk pisses off a supernatural force, supernatural force curses her, she tries to defeat, she fails and gets what’s coming to her. It’s not compelling, cause she’s such an awful person that we want her to fail. But in the end, nothing is resolved – the bad guy isn’t defeated, and the karmic result of Christine’s behavior isn’t satisfying because it’s over in an instant. So what’s the point? It’s not scary, really funny, or captivating. I felt like someone just told me a pointless story – I just don’t care at all! And if you can leave a movie feeling like you literally gained nothing from the experience
The ONLY good part has to do this a goat. That’s it – it’s the only part of the movie I actually laughed at and genuinely felt was a good addition. It showed that spark of campiness I was hoping from this film. Youtube the scene, cause it’s the only thing worth watching.
Overall, Drag Me to Hell might have impressed the major critics, but I just can’t see what they thought was so funny OR scary. It’s not the worst film I’ve ever seen but it’s felt like a huge waste of my time to watch it, and I will be sure not to make the same mistake twice.
Next week, I’m finding a GOOD movie to review. The rageful review give me migraines from the sheer awful that stems from these movies.