Drag Me to Hell
Scary movies are a hard sell for me. Since Linda Blair vomited pea soup, the holy grail of these stories is grossness. These scenes no longer have the power to shock, though you may grimace. The art of scaring audiences with subtlety seems to be almost lost. The standard devices in a spook story is to take a little bit of The Exorcist, a little bit of Poltergeist, then hurl your character up against walls from time to time, and spice it up with half a dozen shocks that turn out just to be bad dreams. This movie, though it had its moments, doesn’t deviate.
What really pissed me off, though, was the end, which, I will warn you is a real bummer. For the sake of a cheap twist ending—which I was able to guess ten minutes early—the director undercuts the only good element of the film, which is the plucky heroine, and basically takes a character we actually like and throws her under a train. This trend seems to have started with Halloween, a well-regarded film that I was enjoying, too, up until the last five minutes. Jamie Lee Curtis fought back, and fought well, and she defeated the bad guy. And then the supposedly dead man got up … which was okay, because it was a nice surprise. And she defeated him again … and the man who, without a doubt, had suffered wounds that were unquestionably fatal, got up again, none the worse for wear, at which point I said phooey! If your villain is literally unkillable, if he will keep getting up again endlessly, you don’t have a story, you have an exercise in sadism. She can’t win, no matter how smart she is.
How many dozens of movies have you seen where the heroine (the victims in these films are usually women) does every stupid thing you could possibly imagine, practically inviting bad things to happen to her, and then is saved at the end by dumb luck? Those films bore me. How much more interesting to have a film like The Stepfather, or Red Eye, in which the girl fights intelligently, and when she wins, the bad guy stays dead. Here, we have a plucky young woman who doesn’t dodder around, and never flinches from the fight. She does what needs to be done, some of which is pretty awful … and it all comes to nothing. And I say phooey!