Thursday , May 23 2024
A delightfully hokey film, and one of the best A/V presentations of the year.

Blu-ray Review: Drag Me To Hell

Well, after that abomination entitled Spider-Man 3, Sam Raimi had to do something to appease his (former) fans. And so, he reverted to his horror roots with this entertaining and very tongue-in-cheek “supernatural thriller” starring Alison Lohman and Justin Long.

From the moment the now antiquated Universal logo appears onscreen, it’s obvious that Drag Me To Hell is kickin’ it old school. The story involves Christine (Lohman), a young and very ambitious bank employee who has high hopes of ditching her southern accent and forgetting about her long past fat days. Engaged to Clay (Long), the progeny of upper-classdom, Alison sees a chance to get ahead in life when her boss (the great David Paymer, who I always though would have made a perfect Larry Fine) announces a promotion at the bank. Seeing as her only competition is a complete snot-nose co-worker (Reggie Lee), Alison starts cracking down on her leniency with customers.

Sadly for Alison, her first crackdown is a poor gypsy woman (Lorna Raver) — who, in exchange for being denied her request, puts a curse on Alison. This starts a series of hellish visions and attacks, brought on by the forces of evil themselves. With her bewildered fiancé doubtful that she has been cursed, poor Alison seeks the advice of a palm reader (Dileep Rao), who sets up a meeting with a medium (Adriana Barraza). But will they be able to convince Hell to let well enough alone?

Nah, of course not. Look at the title of the movie, people!

As predictable and simple as can be, Drag Me To Hell invokes the entertaining and unapologetic spirit of an early ‘90s horror film: one that forsakes the whole “moral” and instead goes straight for the jugular with its unsophisticated (yet highly enjoyable) storyline. The gore level here was lowered for a PG-13 rating, and the horror (as well as humor) is right on-par with Raimi’s Evil Dead Trilogy — and so is the popcorn movie factor.

On Blu-ray, Drag Me To Hell looks absolutely stunning. The movie is presented in its original 2.39:1 widescreen aspect ratio in a 1080p/VC-1 transfer, and the colors are about as rich as they come (especially when the fires of Hell come-a-knocking throughout the film). The contrast is also a force to be reckoned with here, boasting some truly solid blacks that exhibit no signs of grain whatsoever. The Blu-ray gives viewers the option of watching either the original theatrical version of the film, or the “Unrated Director’s Cut” (which is the same length as the original — about the only difference is some extra blood and language). Both versions of the film are accompanied with a truly dynamic 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio lossless soundtrack that will really rock the house and make you think Hell is right underneath the floorboards. Also on the 50GB disc are French and Spanish 5.1 DTS tracks, and subtitles in English (SDH), Spanish, and French.

The movie is fun. The transfer is amazing. And yet, this Blu-ray release of Drag Me To Hell still manages to disappoint thanks to the extremely limited special features. The disc’s sole feature here is a 35-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, “Production Video Diaries.” It's good enough, but there should be more, dammit. A second disc includes a digital copy of the film (something I don’t go in for, so it’s pretty much useless to me), while the main disc is also BD-Live and D-Box enables (two more things I don’t go in for, so… yeah).

There are so few movies these days that are summed up with their title alone. Drag Me To Hell is one of them: a film that gives you exactly what you’re looking for, and doesn’t go out of its way to justify itself. And, although the special features are a letdown, that shouldn’t stop you from picking up a Blu-ray with one of the best audio/video presentations of the year.

About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the alter-ego of a feller who loves an eclectic variety of classic (and sometimes not-so-classic) film and television. He currently lives in Northern California with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.

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