Drag Me to Hell Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review
Written by Robert Gold
Blu-ray released by Scream Factory
Directed by Sam Raimi
Written by Sam Raimi and Ivan Raimi
2009, 99 minutes, Unrated
Blu-ray released on February 13th, 2018
Alison Lohman as Christine
Justin Long as Clay
Lorna Raver as Mrs. Ganush
Dileep Rao as Rham Jas
David Paymer as Mr. Jacks
Adriana Barraza as Shaun San Dena
Things are going well for Christine both at work and at home. She has a great boyfriend, an adorable little kitten and is up for a promotion at the bank. There is some competition for the new position and in an effort to demonstrate strength, she denies an elderly woman an extension on her housing loan. Unfortunately, the old woman feels shamed by the banker and lays a curse upon her. Over the next three days, Christine’s world is turned upside down by a series of aural and visual hallucinations. She cannot trust her senses because to do so would mean admitting that she was wrong and is indeed facing a demon as a consequence of her actions. She does her best to set things right, but the situation is out of her hands and she must find a way to stop the curse before she is taken to Hell.
Director Sam Raimi (Darkman) returns to the world of horror with Drag Me to Hell, a love letter to his longtime fans and the genre itself. Working from a script he penned with his brother Ivan, Raimi effortlessly demonstrates his mastery of the material. He turns convention on its head by taking glee in terrifying audiences in broad daylight. The old, dark house is replaced with a pleasing home in the suburbs and yet there is something horrible coming for our heroine. Peter Deming’s creative cinematography harkens back to Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy at times and the rich sound design really kicks things into high gear. Raimi demonstrates his craft early in a scene featuring a confrontation in a parking garage before moving on to more supernatural terrors. He pulls no punches as he pushes the limits of the film’s PG-13 rating with our heroine being covered in mucus, vomit, maggots and more as the story races to its unexpected finale.
Alison Lohman (Big Fish) stars as Christine, the dedicated yet ultimately self-serving protagonist trying to get ahead. She means well but that doesn’t change the fact that she costs an elderly woman her home and must pay a steep price for her decision. Lohman steps into the Bruce Campbell role of lead actor suffering for her art in a Sam Raimi movie, and she is shown no mercy by the auteur. She excels in her dedication to the role and delivers a terrific performance as our put-upon hero. Lorna Raver (Freeway) is quite the antagonist as the elderly Mrs. Ganush, whose off-putting hygiene is frequently pushed in Christine’s face. The woman proves less frail than implied during a knock-down fight in a car that leads to her laying the curse. She is very much the adversary who should never be underestimated.
The supporting cast is equally strong. Dileep Rao (Avatar) plays Rham Jas, a spiritualist seeking to help save Christine’s soul. He is a charismatic man with a terrific screen presence and owns every minute of his screen time. Justin Long (Jeepers Creepers) fills the role of dedicated spouse, a part usually reserved for women. Long is the grounding character audiences will relate to in a chaotic tale that quickly grows more and more fantastic. It is nice to see a horror film where the men are relegated to the sidelines as two strong women are given the opportunity to carry the leads via solid performances.
Drag Me to Hell is a fast-moving tale that never hits a sour note when it comes to character motivation or plot advancement. People do not do dumb things simply because the script tells them to, but rather they react realistically to increasingly bizarre situations. The over-the-top set pieces rank highly in Raimi’s canon and that is no small feat. He took a break from the genre to pursue a few serious dramas, including the excellent A Simple Plan and The Gift, before tackling the summer blockbuster Spider-Man trilogy. It is nice to see him returning to his roots for such an enjoyable ride. Fans have a lot to be thankful for here and I cannot wait to see what he does next.
Video and Audio:
The previous Universal release of this title offers a strong A/V presentation. Scream Factory has taken the time to create a new 2K scan of the original film elements for the best quality available. The original 2.35:1 aspect ratio shines as a result and the image is slightly stronger than its predecessor. Colors and black levels are rich and constant throughout and there is plenty of small-object detail.
Both a DTS-HD MA 5.1 and a DTS-HD MA 2.0 mix are solid options and both are likely holdovers from the earlier Blu-ray. The 5.1 track is aggressive and brings the film’s excellent sound design front and center.
Optional English subtitles are included for anyone in need.
The 2-disc Collector’s Edition features both the theatrical (on Disc 1) and unrated cuts (on Disc 2) of the film with extras spread across both discs.
Disc 1 serves up a set of Production Diaries (35 minutes) hosted by Justin Long. These include a collection of behind-the-scenes highlights from the making of the film. Several members of the cast and crew are interviewed, including Raimi, Lohman, Raver and make-up artist Greg Nicotero. These segments are informative, entertaining and well-crafted, and definitely worth a look.
A trio of vintage interviews featuring Sam Raimi, Alison Lohman and Justin Long are presented in their entirety. The unedited pieces offer additional insight into the marketing of the film.
The theatrical trailer is joined by a pair of TV spots.
Moving on to Disc 2, we get a trio of new featurettes:
Alison Lohman sits down for an all-new interview in To Hell and Back (13 minutes), giving the actress an opportunity to reflect on her time making the film. This clip-heavy segment is full of nice comments as expected, but the piece remains a welcome addition.
Lorna Raver shares her memories in Curses! (16 minutes) and has nothing but kind words about the production. She tells of the relationship she forged with Lohman and the pleasure of working with Sam Raimi.
Composer Christopher Young appears in the segment Hitting All the Right Notes (17 minutes) in which he shares his approach to writing music for films.
A still gallery (2 minutes) plays as a silent slideshow offering a few brief behind-the-scenes images and a thorough look at the international marketing campaign.
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