Drag Me to Hell review

It’s not necessarily true that all horror movies these days are sequels, remakes, torture porn or some combination of the three, but it certainly feels that way. This year alone has seen a 3-D remake of My Bloody Valentine, a reboot of Friday the 13th and The Last House on the Left. In a few months, there’ll be new sequels to Cabin Fever, Saw, Wrong Turn and The Descent (one of the more original horror flicks of 2005), and fresh stabs at The Wolfman and Night of the Demons, not to mention a sequel to Rob Zombie’s remake of Halloween. Almost universally, the remakes in particular are darker, nastier and a whole lot less fun than the originals.

Granted, this is nothing new to the genre. Anyone raised on the slasher flicks of the ’80s and early ’90s should be well accustomed to series that carry on well past the point of ridiculousness. Still, it’s always nice to see someone buck the trend.

That someone is Sam Raimi, the man behind Evil Dead, Army of Darkness and, most recently, the decidedly non-frightening Spider-Man series. His return to horror, Drag Me to Hell, is exactly the kind of movie that got folks like me into the genre in the first place.

From the ’80s-style Universal logo that opens the picture to the reliance on practical effects and sound design over CGI effects (for the most part), Raimi’s latest makes it clear that it’s part of a grand tradition of horror movies. Unlike the recent spate of remakes that take those classics and give them a soulless sheen, though, Drag Me to Hell remembers that the horror flicks of decades past were still fun. Yes, people die grizzly deaths and jump-scares and sinister music get your heart racing, but it’s done without the weird prurience that can leave crowds feeling dirty when the picture ends.

Darkness has its place, especially in horror, and sequelitis isn’t likely to stop any time soon, but it’s nice to have a reminder of what made the genre so appealing in the first place. Now if only that other goofy-horror-fan-turned-credible-director would come back to the genre. The world doesn’t need The Hobbit half as much as we need another Dead Alive.

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