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Greg Clark feels Sam Raimi just schooled everyone that's made a horror film in the last decade with DRAG ME TO HELL!

Hey folks, Harry here - I've only slept 9 hours in the last 72, but I can't shut my eyes - cuz I can't stop smiling! Here's another similarly inflicted victim of DRAG ME TO HELL...

Hey Harry, Was also at the SXSW workprint screening tonight (I was the guy up in the balcony who couldn't stop cheering at the end), figured I'd chime in with my take on the orgasmic proceedings. Here it is: ---- Saw the workprint at SXSW, the FX and sound mix weren't finished, but I can confidently say this with a fair amount of certainty: If you're a director, and you've made a mainstream horror film in the last ten years, and your name isn't Frank Darabont, you just got your ass schooled. Yes, I'm literally writing this with the buzz still clouding my head and no, I really don't want to pick it apart right now. There's MAYBE one or two "jump scares" too many, but other than that Raimi nails the look and feel of a really well told ghost story. He's got the ick, he's got the goo, he's got the atmosphere, he's got the moments that give you full body goosebumps and even the moments that make your jaw drop open in shock or disbelief or both. But most of all, and here's where all the other directors in the genre need to take an ear and listen: it's FUN. It's scary, yes, but Raimi scares you in such a way that you ENJOY being scared. It's an enjoyable experience. I realized halfway through the movie that even though I had my hand over my mouth and was bouncing around in my seat like so many effective horror films in this decade, this was the first one that I didn't pull out of a collection where I was really, honest-to-Cthluhu having FUN with it, and that's the key to making something like this more than just the sum of its screams. Sam trots out his old bag of Evil Dead tricks for a lot of the scares, but he’s not just treading familiar ground: he’s refined a lot of the gags and visual flourishes and made them feel new again. It’s like he took an old bike out of storage, remembered how it was always a good, dependable bike, put a new chain on it, new seat, the works, buffed it to a high shine, and then decides to upgrade it to a kickass Ducati motorcycle. Several scenes are heavy on the “boo” scares, but the way he presents them they don’t feel cheap or like a cheat; it’s a spook story, and well, spooks go “boo!” a whole huggy bunch. It’s just what they do. Raimi as the actor's director is present as well, and gets a really terrific performance from Allison Lohman in this. The whole movie is about her, there aren't any real sub-plots that focus on secondary characters, so she has to be the audience's eyes, ears, voice, everything. It's not an easy task, and without her digging in and giving it her all the whole movie would've been far sillier than intended. The séance scene runs the gauntlet between creepy, funny, terrifying, and goofy, and Lohman hops between each tonal shift while keeping the movie grounded. She and Raimi have carved out a fantastic character, made all the more welcome in that it's a wholly original story. As far as supporting work goes, Justin Long does a fine job as her worried boyfriend, and Raimi wisely avoids a lot of clichéd trappings about their relationship, even though the movie threatens us with it early on. David Paymer and Reggie Lee are both fun as Lohman’s passive aggressive boss and wormy asshole of a co-worker, respectively, and Dileep Rao manages to make his fortune teller an interesting and shady dude, which was a nice flourish since he is the film’s main source of exposition. It’s not ever a real doubt, but the way Rao keeps asking for money to help Lohman and the way he plays his scenes, he makes you wonder if maybe, just maaaybe he’s pulling off some sort of elaborate scam on her. I can't really get too much more into details without going into spoiler territory, and since all of you poor bastards have to wait two more months to see this, I'll shut my yap. But just know that we've got a real yummy treat coming in May from a chef who knows how to cook a dessert. -------- What an awesome night! And this was my first ever time to a SXSW screening, so the pleasure was doubly phenomenal! Can't wait for the next one! Cheers, Greg Clark
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