Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Horror Movie Review: Drag Me to Hell

Drag Me to Hell

Starring: Alison Lohman, Justin Long, Lorna Raver, and Dileep Rao

Written by: Sam Raimi and Ivan Raimi

Directed by: Sam Raimi

Release Date: March 15, 2009

Production Companies: Universal Pictures, Ghost House Pictures, Buckaroo Entertainment, Mandate Pictures, and Tippett Studio

Boy, talk aboout a movie to which I was looking forward. I mean we've got Sam Raimi, a cute blonde, demons, and Hell. What's the worst that could happen?

Unfortunately, Drag Me to Hell seems to hit every possible downfall and turned out to be a great disappointment.

Christine (Lohman) is hoping to get a promotion at her bank, but unfortunately she's competing against Stu (Reggie Lee) who can, "make the tough decisions." Benevolent and mousey, Christine then is visited by Sylvia Ganush (Raver). She needs an extension on her home loan before the bank takes her house, but when Christine's boss says that it's a tough decision and up to her, she turns down the extension request. Ganush attacks Christine and during the attack curses her to be taken to Hell in three days by the Lamia.

Throughout all this and after, Raimi's main goal seems to be to gross us out as Ganush is a physically revolting character and the Lamia's main form of attack seems to be nauseating rather than frightening. Plenty of films have been successes with predominantly gross out effects being the big draw, but Drag Me to Hell doesn't try to do anything new or unexpected.

The actors are not compelling either. Lohman seems more embarrassed than fearful. You almost expect her to say, "Oh, sorry about that. You know, Lamias these days, what can you do..." Justin Long, playing boyfriend Clay, has little chance to do anything with a character who is painfully dull, and the fact that he works in a university psychology department isn't even used. Dileep Rao as the seer Ram Jas is actually fairly competant in his role, but the writing doesn't seem to allow his character to actually react to anything.

I know Raimi likes to inject humor into his movies, but it wasn't working here. A guy being possessed by the Lamia does a Lord of the Dance jig or something was eye-rollingly out of place. In The Evil Dead, Raimi also lightened up his horror with humor, but it fit better there, or maybe Bruce Campbell was better able to convey the humor. In Drag Me to Hell, the humor just makes the scenes seen awkward.

Then there's the Lamia, described in the movie as a demon with the head and feet of a goat. But in mythology, Lamia was a Queen driven mad when Hera killed the children Lamia had bore from her trysts with Zeus. The murder of her children drove her mad and she began eating children across the land. Later the lamia became a sort of succubus seducing men and eating them. Nowhere does the lamia get described as having a goat-like appearance. Admittedly, if the movie was good, I wouldn't care, but considering the poor nature of the film, the random distortion of the Lamia when there are goat headed demons he could have used with minor tweaks, such as Baphomet.

Unfortunately, Raimi's return to horror didn't just drag Christine to Hell, but me along with her.

Related Trailers

The Thirteenth Floor

Alison Lohman also appeared in The Thirteenth Floor. Computer scientist Hannon Fuller has discovered something extremely important. He's about to tell the discovery to his colleague, Douglas Hall, but knowing someone is after him, the old man leaves a letter in his computer generated parallel world that's just like the 30's with seemingly real people with real emotions. Fuller is murdered in our real world the same night, and his colleague is suspected. Douglas discovers a bloody shirt in his bathroom and he cannot recall what he was doing the night Fuller was murdered. He logs into the system in order to find the letter, but has to confront the unexpected. The truth is harsher than he could ever imagine...

Jeepers Creepers

Justin Long also starred in Jeepers Creepers. A brother and sister driving home for spring break encounter a flesh-eating creature in the isolated countryside that is on the last day of its ritualistic eating spree.

The Evil Dead

Sam Raimi also wrote and directed The Evil Dead. Five friends travel to a cabin in the woods, where they unknowingly release flesh-possessing demons.

Army of Darkness

Ivan Raimi also co-wrote Army of Darkness. A man is accidentally transported to 1300 A.D., where he must battle an army of the dead and retrieve the Necronomicon so he can return home.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Horror Movie Review Preview: Drag Me to Hell

Coming Soon...Drag Me to Hell. A loan officer ordered to evict an old woman from her home finds herself the recipient of a supernatural curse, which turns her life into a living hell. Desperate, she turns to a seer to try and save her soul, while evil forces work to push her to a breaking point.

Starring Alison Lohman, Justin Long, Lorna Raver, and Dileep Rao, Drag Me to Hell was released on March 15, 2009 at the South by Southwest Film Festival.

Join us soon to see if Drag Me to Hell will...drag us along.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Horror Movie Review: The Reeds

The Reeds

Starring: Scarlett Alice Johnson, Geoff Bell, Emma Catherwood, O.T. Fagbenle, and Will Mellor

Directed by: Nick Cohen

Written by: Chris Baker and Mark Anthony Galluzzo

Production Companies: Delacheroy Films, Eye Film and Television, Funnyman Films, and Reeds Film

Release Date: October 30, 2009

I have to admit I go into the After Dark Horrorfest movies with doubts. You can never be certain what you are going to get. The films' production qualities are generally pretty good, the acting is often times shallow, and the plots can vary amongst dull and plodding, intense, or predictable. I was particularly put off the year they said the 8 Films to Die For claimed the movies were too scary for theaters...and they just weren't.

But I've forgiven them since then and I decided to give the Horrorfest another shot. I'm not sure why I started off with The Reeds...I mean, the title isn't interesting, the plot summaries I found were all vague, and the trailer let me know little more than it had potential, but I started off with it nonetheless.

And I was impressed...

Helen, Mel, Nick, Chris and friends rent a boat but lose their way amongst the reeds. But being lost is the least of their concerns after an impact with a piece of metal leaves the boat with a hole in the hull and one of the party injured. Then they find themselves harassed by teenage punks and a hooded man with a rifle.

What starts off like a waterlogged rehash of Wrong Turn or Wolf Creek takes a mindbending turn as Nick finds himself seeing himself in the boat just before their wreck.

Turns out The Reeds is not just a mad killer movie, but a psychadelic ghost story. Some of the twists near the end remind me of Herschell Gordon Lewis's Wizard Of Gore, but unfortunately without the tits and gore. But then what movie wouldn't be better by adding tits and gore? Tell me Avatar wouldn't be even better with some Na'vi breasts and chainsaw wounds spurting blood at the camera!

But even without such "sexploitation gimmicks," The Reeds is a surprising little gem. It seems I'm in the minority with that opinion, but if you can appreciate a story despite flimsy acting, then give this one a look.

Related Videos

Geoff Bell, who plays , also appears in Tormented. A bullied teenager comes back from the dead to take revenge on his classmates.

Against the Dark

Emma Catherwood, who plays Mel, also stars in Against the Dark. When most of the population of Earth is infected by a virus and transformed in flesh eaters and blood drinking creatures, a group of hunters leaded by Tao and his word chases the vampire zombies to eliminate them. Six non-infected survivors try to find the exit of an abandoned hospital crowded of the infected creatures, and Tao and his group help them. Meanwhile the military command is ready to bomb and wipe out the area from the map.

Long Time Dead

Chris Baker also contributed to the script for Long Time Dead. A young Londoner and his friends use a Ouija board to hold a seance, triggering a chain of mysterious deaths that may be caused by an otherworldly force.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Horror Movie Review Preview: The Reeds

Coming Soon...The Reeds. A weekend boating party turns into a nightmare for a group of young Londoners when they stumble upon a terrifying secret hidden in the reeds.

Starring Anna Brewster, O. T. Fagbenle, Will Mellor, Danny Caltagirone, and Scarlett Johnson, and directed by Nick Cohen, The Reeds was one of the fourth After Dark Horrorfest films.

Join us soon to see if...there is something in The Reeds.