Sunday, June 21, 2009

Old is Cool: Drag Me To Hell

Finally I was able to watch Drag Me to Hell after almost two weeks of planning. I was already resigned to watch it in DVD and rely on the comforts and abilities of the home theater system, but good thing I didn't. There is a reason.

With my sister, we drove to Glorietta at around lunch time, bought tickets and waited for my other cultured movie enthusiast friend Tim David. We noticed that after a week of showing, Drag Me To Hell had the highest ticket price due to the screening done in a THX enabled cinema. My sister asked what's up with the THX? Again, there is a reason.

We entered a semi-abandoned theater with minimal audience. Of course we picked the best seats and prepared to enjoy one of the horror treats of the season.

DRAG ME TO HELL has old school elements on it, but it's not something corny, slapstick or irrelevant. If you're familiar with the booming sound of vintage Frankenstein movies and Phantom of the Opera, he used that from the start of the film. The screeching violin sounds, the orchestra after every fright. No wonder the movie was advised to be watched in the cinemas and in THX at that. This is one of those movies that relied heavily on amazing sound effects. Sam Raimi was able to use sounds so effectively that my sister almost watched the movies with her ears covered. Sounds give you the fright before the actual thing. The creaking metal gate, the hoofs, the body clashes, the violin backgrounds are so old school, but done in a very large and sophisticated scale, which I was looking for in other horror movies. To watch it in DVD would rob us of that specific experience.

The actors are very bankable. They're not trying hard and they're very relative. Justin Long is a safe and an effective choice for being this understanding, rich boyfriend that cements the supporter role for this movie. He is not beaming with excessive star quality, which works for him very well. The Spanish Medium to the Indian Medium played by Adriana Baraza and Dileep Rao are also typical, yet true to their characters. Who could ever forget the old gypsy woman who started all the curse in the movie? Lorna Raver, playing the gypsy woman Mrs. Ganush, was one strong frightening woman when angry. Just hope that you're not the object of her anger or you'll endure physical tryst and a deadly curse. Reggie Lee, another supporting character played by Fil-AM Actor Reggie Lee, provides a modern and comic touch to the side of antagonists by being this over-competitive co-worker who makes life harder for Christine Brown. Alison Lohman in the meantime played Christine Brown who is struggling to achieve something in the city and wanted to forget the fact that she came from a farm. Alison Lohman is one golden girl who exactly reminds me of the leading lady of Johnny Depp in his movie Cry Baby. She first portrayed Christine Brown by being soft and naive as the image she wanted the world to see, yet inside the assertiveness and the courage are easily delivered when she's at the brink of losing everything.

What about the plot? Well, the plot is about the supernatural. Don't expect a merely psychological battle, it is just one of the products of being cursed by the Lamia, a very powerful deity that drags cursed souls to hell in three days. But before the third day comes, the Lamia torments the cursed soul like a poltergeist with painful hallucinations. The story focuses on the cursed Christine Brown and how she could overcome the Lamia.

Everything is in place, but one thing I didn't expect from this theatrical horror movie are the numerous times I have laughed so hard from some of the detailed scenes, which are in a way needed in the film. It is a horror movie no doubt but Sam Raimi didn't take this one too seriously and provided effortless gags that would leave anyone laughing. The timing is just right and he is effectively playing the emotions of his audience. One minute I caught myself laughing really hard on the mishaps and then the next thing, I'm back to being frightened. It's not something slapstick, I tell you. It's simply effortless.

If people would ask me if I should recommend it? Go ahead. You'll be enjoying an old school movie that isn't bad. You would appreciate how the old school elements were brought to this film and figure that this is what a well crafted horror movie should be like. It's a rollercoaster ride of emotions too. You would come out of the cinema highly entertained and not jaded. It's one of his finest. Don't wait till it's over. Of courseI wouldn't say that you'd get the same experience in watching it in DVD.

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