Cast aside all PG-13 biases folks, you’ll be glad to know that even with the rating, “Drag Me to Hell” is one of the finer horror movies released this year. It marks a come back for Sam Raimi who finally returns to the genre that made him and reminds us why he’s one of the greats. While gore is always fun, most times horror excels because of good storytelling and Raimi doesn’t dole out the gore, instead opting to tell a very good horror story that hearkens back to “Thinner.” It’s a classic horror comeuppance tale with themes of karma and revenge that takes advantage of old horror tricks without ever really trying too hard to scare us.
Raimi uses his trademark brand of horror and dark comedy to allow for some creative and often disgusting special effects. For a PG-13 film he manages to get away with murder staging awfully gross scenes. “Drag me to Hell” is a genuinely scary movie that keeps up an urgent pacing for such a short run time and Raimi proves he can get back in to his roots without ever sacrificing the dignity of the ghost tale once. All Hollywood polish is gone from the proceedings as Raimi and co. rely on their creativity to pull off some gross out humor and special effects that barely relies on the classic CGI to get it ahead.
“Drag Me to Hell” also improves with the performance by Alison Lohman who is believably terrified when cursed with the La Lamia curse after refusing to grant an old woman an extension on her mortgage. Lohman carries the film on her back and compliments the screenplay at every turn. Raimi then builds up the tension and urgency throughout the run time never progressing with eye catching effects until the end. This slow tension allows for simpler sleek effects including house flies and the classic shadow tricks that is as spooky as can be anticipated. What helps “Drag Me to Hell” stand out as a twist on the modern horror flick is the uphill battle that ensues once main character Christine begins being taunted by evil spirits.
We know from the get go that it’s an uphill battle but we still can’t help but root for her. Raimi takes every chance to give us her experiences first hand and really tests the limits the PG-13 rating whenever possible. As far as horror goes in this day and age, Raimi’s opus feels wildly original and inventive and it never lets up for a moment. I’m glad Raimi was able to show audiences that he hasn’t lost his backbone in the hail of Superhero movies he took part in. Hell, I loved it. It’s assuring to see Sam Raimi return to the roots that branded him a horror master; “Drag Me to Hell” is a sick and creepy horror story with great performances and jolts that work with sheer success. Welcome back to horror Sam!