A blu ray film review of Drag Me To Hell.
The script for Drag Me To Hell was written many years ago after Raimi had finished work on the third Evil Dead film, Army Of Darkness.
The film took so long to get made because other film projects came up and then the Spiderman franchise which meant this film was put on the back burner.
Drag Me To Hell starts with the old 1980's Universal logo which is deliberate and is there because that's when Sam Raimi started his film career with The Evil Dead.
If you watch the closing titles you will see at the end you get a take the Universal tour, this was used on a number of Universal cinema releases during the eighties.
Christine's boyfriend in the movie, Clay Dalton, mentions taking a trip to his parent's cabin in the woods, for movie buffs this is a reference to the cabin in the first two Evil Dead films.
Evil Dead IV is in development. ( Yay )
A Yellow Delta 88 Oldsmobile is also the same car used in the Evil Dead movies.
In Christine's house is the picture of a boat that resembles Anchor Bay's logo, of course they released many editions of the Evil Dead movies over the years on VHS and DVD.
The licence plate for Mrs Ganush's car is 99951, turn it upside down and you get IS666.
Christine Brown is a loans assistant at a bank and is after a promotion, she thinks that if she is tough and refuses Sylvia Ganush ( A Gypsy woman ) an extension on her mortage then her boss will be more likely to promote her, this results in the old lady losing her home, Mrs Ganush confronts Christine and takes a button off her coat and curses it before returning it to her.
Christine has nightmares and feels something is wrong, she visits a fortune teller who informs her she is cursed and a demon known as the Lamia will come for her in three days, she must find a way to lift the curse and escape the demon's clutches before she is literally dragged to hell.
Sam Raimi has always had a great eye for visuals and this film has some impressive moments, i particularly enjoyed the goat scene, it's clear that Raimi loves the horror genre. It's also clear his Evil Dead films influenced several scenes in Drag Me To Hell, there are a couple of scenes which i felt were inspired by Evil Dead 2, the séance scene where we see a demon possessing someone and doing a little jig while hanging in the air and a scene earlier in the film where Mrs Ganush has an anvil dropped on her head and her eyeballs fly out of their sockets, both those scenes are fun but you can't ignore the influence of Raimi's earlier horror films.
The acting was good in this film, Alison Lohman managed to bring a range of emotions to a character who is not totally innocent, after all she did refuse an extension on a mortgage which meant someone lost their home.
In a way there is a message about our banking system and the way it is ruthless and only interested in making as much profit as it can from us all, It's certainly not easy to find sympathy for a character like Christine Brown but Lohman managed to pull it off.
The supporting actors are well cast.
Justin Long plays the boyfriend, Clay Dalton, Lorna Raver as Mrs Ganush and Dileep Rao as the fortune teller Rham Jas were all convincing and played their respective parts well.
The effects work was also good, the film used CGI but did not over rely on it and instead used puppeteers, makeup and camera tricks for many of it's scenes, i found it refreshing that CGI was kept to a minimum. I felt the film worked better by avoiding the overuse of CGI.
The music score was excellent and drove the film along, an appropriate and good music score helps a film immensely while a bad score can take you right out of a movie.
The disc itself starts with far too many forced trailers and advertising for the blu ray format, they really need to put that stuff as an extra which we can choose to look at or not, why advertise blu ray on a blu ray movie disc when obviously we have the disc and are watching it which means we have a blu ray player thus advertising the format is pointless since we already have it.
For films like this which have a good musical score there should be an option for an isolated music only track, i feel blu ray disc producers do not use this option nearly enough.
I thought the image quality was impressive, film grain was intact and there is fine detail in abundance, shadow detail is important in a movie like this and its captured perfectly on this disc.
They have resisted the temptation to contrast boost and add any artificial enhancements, colours all look fabulous so that when the blood flows it looks suitably gory, skin tones looked natural too but there are some compression artifacts.
A handful of darker lit scenes have artifacts in the background of the image, on a smaller screen these artifacts may not be so noticeable.
The only issue which bothered me was the minor compression artifacts noted above, i feel if only they had been a little more careful in those scenes then this would have been reference quality.
I enjoyed the sound mix on this disc, the film uses all the speakers to excellent effect with great rear split surround effects, clear speech and beautiful tight deep bass.
i also thought the music score was wonderful and sounded very dynamic and alive.
The end titles feature Lalo Schifrin's unused score for The Exorcist, its called The Exorcist Symphony and that was a real bonus to hear, thats a fabulous piece of music.
This is a welcome return from Sam Raimi to the horror genre, it's not as explicitly gory as the Evil Dead series and its also a lot more polished than those films but you have to remember those films were made on small budgets and this one had a $30m dollar budget.
I am a horror fan and have become fussier over the years about what i like and i must admit the PG-13 certificate that this film originally received in North America put me off for quite some time in watching this, the version i watched is called the unseen edition and is actually a little bit shorter than the theatrical edition, it contains a little bit more blood during the bank scene, we now see blood gushing from Christine's mouth which she covers only for it to gush out from her nose, a couple of other scenes have small additions and one scene is now in blood red.
There is a great horror movie called Night Of The Demon, it's a British horror movie and it was made in 1957 and i never tire of watching it, i believe Sam Raimi was influenced by that film when he wrote the script for Drag Me To Hell. I would be surprised if that was not the case.
I think this is the sort of film which studio's look upon as being worthy of sequels, it did reasonable worldwide box office business, i just hope if they do a sequel they maintain a high standard and don't go cheap on the production. This film entertained me a lot.
You might also like our blu ray review of My Bloody Valentine 3D here.