Halloween Horror Weekend: Film 3 and 4: Drag Me To Hell + Paranormal Activity 2

drag-me-to-hell-uk-movie-poster-2009Insidious has put me in the mood for 80’s horror movies that weren’t made in the 80’s, and after the tension fueled mania The Thing still provides what better antidote than Sam Raimi’s recent movie Drag Me To Hell.

The Evil Dead Trilogy stands as a horror landmark, the story of how Sam Raimi, Bruce Campbell and co made the first film should be a film in itself. After a Spider-Man trilogy it was welcoming news of his return to the genre that got him to pick up a camera in the first place.

When it was released, Drag Me To Hell was sold as Sam Raimi’s triumphant return to horror but some didn’t like it, to me it was a stark reminder that he has not been tamed by the Hollywood machine.

The set up is simple, loan officer Christine Brown refuses an elderly woman an extension on her loan and as result she will be homeless. The old woman places a curse on Christine, a powerful demon will drive her to madness before dragging her soul to hell. Desperate to save her soul, Christine seeks out a psychic to rid herself of the demon only to discover it’s the Lamia that is chasing her.

There is so much to enjoy from this movie, it feels like a Sam Raimi which after the shocking lows of Spider-Man 3 it’s a relief to see his skills have not left him. In his defense, making thee superhero movies in a row was likely frustrating for him and restlessness does not make a good film.

Raimi is clearly having a ball behind the camera here, and it really shows as Mrs Ganush is a marvelous horror creation and she provides several gross out moments as well as being frightening. The cast are all playing it straight, perhaps Justin Long is the only weak link as he still looks 12 and a half years old.

Fans of The Evil Dead will relish the style and camera work, and I’m almost certain that Bruce Campbell’s famous laugh can be heard durning the seance scene. There are plenty of jumps and a few nice bits of misdirection in the story. The balance of horror and comedy is always just right, but the laughs only serve to lull you into a false sense of security. Highly recommended for any fan of horror.

paranormal_activity_2_movie_poster_01Paranormal Activity 3 is currently riding high at the box office, I had yet to see part 2 as I found the first movie quite underwhelming. At 90 minutes it wasn’t too long and I thought I would give part two a go.

It’s a nice concept, the ‘found footage’ format currently only lends itself to horror, a couple of exceptions apply such as Cloverfield. When it’s used well (Blair Witch) it can really work, but when it’s overused or used poorly it becomes the most boring reality TV show ever made. Given that almost all reality TV is as boring as watching someone on TV watching paint dry, that’s saying something.

Paranormal Activity 2 isn’t a badly made film, there is a story there and a few well staged set pieces look impressive on the security cameras. The sequence where somebody is dragged down the stairs and into the basement and the floating baby stand out as memorable moments. I just didn’t find it scary, or jumpy or even find the trace of an atmosphere.

Shots linger on screen, we’re waiting for the jump or the ghostly figure to appear or even a photo frame to become slightly lopsided. Occasionally something that should of been jumpy happens, but it just doesn’t push you to feeling anything resembling fear. Which is a fatal error for a horror movie, but maybe I’m just jaded towards horror movies after watching so many of them.

My final two movies of Halloween will be watched back to back this evening.


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