Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Drag Me To Hell - Dir. Sam Raimi

‘Drag Me To Hell’ is a god-damn good film, floating in a sea of horror plagued with sunken Hollywood remakes, and it also gives a revitalising kick to the comedy-horror genre.

Christine (Alison Lohman) is told to make the ‘hard’ decisions in her job at the local bank to seal a promotion, and the weathered old gypsy Mrs Ganush (Lorna Raver) is the unfortunate victim of this selfish act of personal greed and capitalism. But, she gets the last scratch (laugh, ruler, bite...) as she places a Lamia curse upon Christine. In three days she will be dragged into the depths of hell by an unspeakable evil force. What follows is a thrilling, edge-of-your-seat, over-the-top, suspense fuelled ride (reminiscent of Sam Raimi’s early Evil Dead films) through ninety-minutes of scary, disgusting and at times quite humorous (anvil, anybody?) scenes that make ‘DMTH’ an enjoyable and impressive film.

Raimi does what he does best, by allowing the surroundings to come to life – the rattling of doors and windows, the use of shadows – he takes a hold of the age old cinematic device of keeping the vision and display of the Lamia at bay and allowing our minds to fill in the blanks. A perfect example is a scene in which Christine is tripped in her own bedroom by the forces beyond. How can you combat, defeat or avoid something if you don’t know what, where or who it is. The tried-and-tested common horror conventions coupled with the slick editing of Bob Murawski (who virtually creates and sustains the menace of the penultimate scene), a solid central performance of Alison Lohman (who now knows the dangers of refusing a loan extension!) and the knowledgeable direction and experience of Sam Raimi makes ‘Drag Me To Hell’ one of the fair few horror films worth the admittance fee.

This film is nothing new, and nothing different. You will notice the subtle nods and homage’s through the humour and disgusting inventiveness of Raimi to the various films of the same veneer in the 1980’s and the early 1990’s, but what makes this film stand-out is that it ticks all the right boxes in audience expectation. It will make you jump, keep you tense, release a giggle and squirm a little, and most importantly: it is fun.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Fighting - Dir. Dito Montiel

Dito Montiel's film has been advertised as the 'Rocky of our generation', however I do believe they were referring to the fifth film in the Rocky franchise. Predictable, boring, tedious, lifeless are just a few words I could use to describe this film, but I really only need to use one; terrible.

Shawn MacArthur (Channing Tatum) is your typical working-class boy who is taken under the wing of an ageing con-man named Harvey (Terrence Howard) and given the opportunity to make his American dream come true by participating in various back-room bare-knuckle fights. Oh, and the stereotypical love-interest in the form Zulay (Zulay Henao) is also thrown into the mix. Now, despite this description describing various films from the last few years (never mind the last few decades), it contains three huge, jaw-shattering constraints:

1) Despite being named Fighting, the film ironically contains very little fighting or brawling in regards to its hundred-minute running time. And when we do get to see some face-bruising action, the Director seems to get incredibly giddy with the camera and what we are left with is some Paul Greengrass jerkiness that allows you to observe very little especially when the camera is thrown into the heart of the action.

2) Terrence Howard puts a little effort into his character and drags out a performance worthy of a film better than this, however Channing Tatum does not follow his lead. His stony expression and Brando-style mumbling is just plain annoying and unconvincing, yet he is the lead protagonist at the forefront of the film, and his performance drags the film down considerably.

3) Finally, Munic and Montiel's script has about as much weight as a feather and as punch as a fighter out-cold on the mat. We learn little about the characters until late into the film when there life stories seem to just be thrown around quickly to fill various plot-holes. While, the majority of the dialogue is just clich├ęd and cringe-worthy, most notably a scene at the end of the film that precedes the final fight sequence, which can only be described as hilariously idiotic.

Fighting is crime against cinema. It is a film which gives the audience absolutely nothing, yet takes from them their hard-earned cash in the form of their admittance fee. The only reason I can think why this film was distributed to theatres instead of being a straight-to-DVD affair, is down to the influence of having a star like Terrence Howard in the picture. Don't waste your time or money on this abomination.