Tuesday, February 16, 2010

BMC MOVIE OF THE WEEK: DRAG ME TO HELL

Drag Me to Hell
  • Christine Brown
  • Drag Me to Hell
Christine Brown is an ambitious L.A. loan officer with a charming boyfriend, Professor Clay Dalton. Life is good until the mysterious Mrs. Ganush arrives at the bank to beg for an extension on her home loan. Should Christine follow her instincts and give the old woman a break? Or should she deny the extension to impress her boss, Mr. Jacks, and get a leg-up on a promotion? Christine fatefully chooses the latter, shaming Mrs.Ganush and dispossessing her of her home. In retaliation, the old woman places the powerful curse of the Lamia on Christine, transforming her life into a living hell. Haunted by an evil spirit and misunderstood by a skeptical boyfriend, she seeks the aid of seer Rham Jas to save her soul from eternal damnation. To help the shattered Christine return her life to normal, the psychic sets her on a frantic course to reverse the spell. As evil forces close in, Christine must face the unthinkable: how far will she go to break free of the curse?
61% liked it

PG-13, 1 hr. 39 min.

Director: Sam Raimi 

February 14, 2010: Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

"So much happens to her," director Sam Raimi told the L.A. Times of his lead actress Alison Lohman. "She has pumps placed inside her body to spew blood, inside her nostril, when she's got this big bloody nose scene. I have dummies that were made with extra wide jaw openings… to suckle her face with slime oozing out of it. And then I had to bury her in about 800 pounds of mud. And then we had puppets that were designed just to projectile-vomit maggots inside her mouth… It was the most fun I've had in 20 years directing pictures."

The best thing about Drag Me To Hell is that Sam’s enthusiasm for his work is right there on the screen. Oh sure, it never quite reaches the heights of inspired lunacy that Raimi’s earlier Evil Dead movies do, but there’s still enough cartoonish craziness going on to make Drag Me To Hell one of the more fun horror flicks of recent years. The tooth and nail slugfest between Lohman’s character and the old Gypsy which takes place inside a locked car is worth the price of admission alone. And when you throw in the completely insane séance sequence, of which I’ll spoil nothing, you’ve got a full evening of shrieks and giggles to look forward to.

Plus, there’s more going on than just some icky fun. As Raimi explained to the Times, the story is a morality tale in which the Lohman character, despite being a likable good person, makes a sinful choice in a moment of weakness and suffers mightily for it. But he didn’t want the film to be about just watching her get punished. “We wanted the audience to identify with her and make this choice with her and sin with her in throwing that old woman out. So once they had made that greedy, sinful choice with her, whether they knew it or not, every moment that this demon from Hell, which was sicced on her as punishment, was coming for her, they would have been guilty of that sin too, and it would be coming for them also.”

What Christine goes through as a result of her transgression may seem excessive, but as this week’s gospel reminds us, there really are serious repercussions when we turn our backs on the poor and downtrodden, the ones Jesus names as blessed. As the Rev. Clement D. Thibodeau points out, “Unlike Matthew for whom the Beatitudes contain only blessings, in Luke, there are curses also for those who do not do the works that lead to blessings!… Blessedness here [meaning] becoming intimately united to God.” So when Jesus says “woe to you”, He’s talking about a lot worse fate than a mere mouthful of maggots. He’s talking about eternal separation from God. And though we may not reach that state as gruesomely as Christine, we can share it just the same by following her example.

8 comments:

Der Wolfanwalt said...

You know, it's funny, but reading Raimi's description it sounds an awful lot like the catharsis concept of Greek tragedy.

Of course, I'm crazy enough to think that the Evil Dead saga satisfies the Greek definition of comedy, too, so feel free to write me off as a kook and move on. :)

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Wow! I was impressed by Sam Raimi after watching Spider-man 2, but I had no idea he was this great! =D

EegahInc said...

Der Wolfanwalt, The Raimi brothers swear up and down they developed this story before the financial crisis hit, but I have to admit, in terms of catharsis, the timing of the movie's release couldn't have been better.

Enbrethiliel, like everyone else, Raimi isn't perfect (he's on record as regretting a scene or two he put in the first Evil Dead movie) but overall he seems like a good guy. Here's a neat article where he briefly discusses his conservative Jewish upbringing. http://www.jewishjournal.com/arts/article/spidermensch_20020426/

Fr. Erik Richtsteig said...

The only thing this movie lacks is the obligatory (or ought to be in a Raimi movie) cameo by Bruce Campbell.

EegahInc said...

Yeah, I don't know what the deal with that was. Guess he's busy making his own stuff. I hear Bruce Vs. Frankenstein is in pre-production right now :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reminder! This weekend is the anniv. of the opening of "Army of Darkness" in 1993. I saw it opening night (while in grad school for medieval studies) and almost got tossed from the theatre for laughing so much. Of course these days, I remember this important anniv. by praying for all the friends who went with me that night, esp. the atheist I was dating. Yeah, like that was going to work.

Xena Catolica

EegahInc said...

Saw it opening day myself. So, since it was originally going to be called Medieval Dead, how did the setting hold up to your expectations?

Anonymous said...

Splendidly! The only oddball thing about the setting was the metal pit doors in the courtyard, which seemed to have been borrowed from a sci-fi set.

But maybe my judgement isn't the best--opening night included a lot of hot garlic shrimp & adult beverages. And I was a bad grad student: a lot of the stuff I studied made me want to, you know, pray, rather than write papers about it. Academic treason! Probably related to the adult beverage consumption.

Xena Catolica