May 29, 2009, - 12:42 pm
Weekend Box Office: Fun “Drag Me to Hell” Destined to be Horror Classic; “Brothers Bloom” Too Quirky
By Debbie Schlussel
I’ve already posted my review of “Up,” which I thoroughly enjoyed. Here are the other two movies opening this weekend.
* “Drag Me to Hell“: This fun, campy, self-deprecating movie is destined to be a horror movie cult classic. It’s everything a horror movie thriller should be, but, these days, usually isn’t. If you don’t like horror movies, this isn’t for you. But if you do–and you don’t like the blood and gore–this is your flick. I loved it. And it was funny. It’s a creation of director Sam Raimi of the “Evil Dead” and “Spiderman” movies (and one of my favorites, “Darkman”).
Alison Lohman plays a young woman working as an enterprising loan officer a bank. She came from a farm and is trying to advance in life on her own, seeking to become assistant bank manager. But she’s competing against the new guy, Stu Rubin (who is noticeably Korean–funny, he doesn’t look Rubin-ish).
An old, ill gypsy woman–who is blind in one eye and has decrepit teeth–comes to the bank because she’s being kicked out of her home, which was foreclosed upon. The bank already gave her two extensions, and Lohman wants to give her one more. But her boss reminds her that she is in contention for the assistant bank manager position, and that it’s up to her. She turns the woman down. When the woman lunges at her, she calls security, and the woman screams, “You shamed me!” Later, after a scuffle in the parking lot, the Gypsy woman puts a curse on Lohman.
Soon, the curse comes to life and Lohman is terrorized by intangible spirits and shadows. And strange things happen to her that jeopardize her chances of getting the promotion at work. Add to that her boyfriend (Justin Long) from a snobbish, wealthy family who look down on this commoner girl from the farm without social connections. We watch as Lohman tries to deal with these and attempts to rid herself of the curse, which may soon take her life. We watch as she consults an Indian psychic and tries to follow his advice.
Best line in the movie: When Lohman is told she must kill an animal as a sacrifice to the evil spirit. “But I’m a vegetarian.”
While there was a violent fight scenes and a very tiny bit of blood, this was not your typical contemporary horror flick, in that most of the bad stuff, most of the thrill and horror are in your mind and not on the screen. There are a few scenes set in scary places like a grave in a cemetery, and there are a few quick shots of various human mucus, but most of the scare is psychological and left to your imagination. And that’s what director Raimi said he aimed for. A great horror movie relies on imagination instead of the wanton, graphic and gratuitous violence, blood, and torture porn we see in much of today’s very weak horror flick offerings. In this one, for instance, while we know that a cat was killed, we aren’t shown that. It’s all in your mind. There are even no sex scenes. That’s in your mind too, though you see Lohman and her boyfriend waking up in bed together, after a really bad dream.
Still, this movie is not for kids. Don’t take them.
I loved everything about the movie, the casting, the sets, the tone and tempo, the camp (or is that, “campiness”?), and the fact that it made fun of itself. There was a lot of laughter, and deliberately so. It was almost as much a comedy as it is a horror movie. It had suspense, action, and excitement. And it was well done, including its classic horror flick ending.
If I had any qualms about the movie, it was that I was surprised at the usual negative stereotypes about Gypsies put forth in a major way in this film. You wouldn’t dare see Hollywood do this with a Muslim. No, not ever. But, see, there’s not Council on American-Gypsy Relations or Gypsy-American Anti-Defamation League.
Instead of lots of violence and gore, it leaves that to your imagination.
But, despite that minor flaw, I liked this movie a lot and felt it went by so fast, I wanted more. That’s the hallmark of a great movie.
* “The Brothers Bloom“: Mark Ruffalo and Adrien Brody play two brothers who are con men. Brody is fed up and wants out, but Ruffalo convinces him to do one last con. The target: a young, eccentric multi-millionairess (Rachel Weisz), whom Brody romances to get her to fall for the con.
While parts of this were entertaining, this movie tried too hard to be artsy and cute. Ruffalo has an Asian girlfriend who never speaks and uses hand gestures, and the two brothers dress like they’re on a 1930’s set, even though the flick takes place today. It tried too much to be quirky, and in my view that took away from the movie. It annoyed me.
Plus it was very predictable, though the end gets very confusing. Mildly entertaining, but not my cup of tea. Plus I can’t stand Ruffalo, not because he’s a far left tool, but because the guy just can’t act. He’s not convincing. And Rachel Weisz, with her fake, forced American accent, caused me cognitive dissonance.