Posted by: Peter Hall
Directed by Sam Raimi, 2009
Written by Sam Raimi & Ivan Raimi
Better late than never.
DRAG ME TO HELL, in theory, is a good movie, but as with all theory, scrutiny, minimal it may be, is required before theory metabolizes into law. In theory, this is Sam Raimi’s return to horror, a technically factual statement, yes, but as Brad at ILoveHorror.net so eloquently taped in his review, Raimi never was a horror director. His first three films, films rightfully considered genre canon for Raimi’s flirtation with genre conventions, his menage a trois between style, practastical gore and The Chin, are not pure bred horror. They’re the closest Raimi ever came to horror and are made only for horror fans, but that does not tether them exclusively to the horror baseline. Which is precisely why the EVIL DEAD trilogy is unimpeachable canon, after all.
All three are beautiful freaks of film, glorious mastication of the unrealities we lurve to expect from our field. And sadly I speak of a multi-genre chewing confined to an era gone, an era gone never to return.
I’m glad to have Sam Raimi making his horror movies again, honest, I am, but to herald DRAG ME TO HELL as the return of Raimi to horror is a misguided, though not disingenuous, notion. This is Sam Raimi’s return to Sam Raimi’s brand of horroromedy. But it’s nearly two decades late. DRAG ME TO HELL sinks its teeth into a few niches simultaneously, but it’s not the same as it was before. Raimi, rightfully enjoying the fruits of two decade’s labors, has no need for by-the-bootstraps filmmaking. No need to innovate, no need to compromise. Bigger budget and producer muscle has tamed the creative fury once seen powering herbaceous rape, severed hand assaults and castles sieged by armies of skeletons.
On the page DRAG features gags kin to those deadite favorites, gags bound to warm the nostalgia of any fan; on the screen cheap CGI spoils each and every one of these gags. There’s nothing innovative about the sequences, nothing glorious happens because nothing glorious actually happened. Nearly everything in DRAG ME TO HELL was spun together on a bank of hard drives somewhere, not stuck together on a set with spirit glue and hope. The whole production, fun it may be, feels empty. Raimi antics engineered for the Ghost House demographic.
You can never go home.