Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000 to 2009.
You know those frightened smiles riders on a rickety rollercoaster flash as they approach a precipitous plummet? That’s what watching Drag Me To Hell felt like — the closer to the edge, the noodlier the nerves and the giddier the giggles.
Behind this fabulously freaky 2009 funhouse jaunt was no vacant-eyed carnie with his mind on the clock. Sam Raimi is the greased-lightning guy who gladly goosed the juice on this ride, daring passengers to endure the faster pace he pushed.
Fans hadn’t seen him roaming the midway much since Darkman and Army of Darkness — generating terror with torque, reveling in destruction and controlling fear with morbid humor and dazzling style. This easily was his best work of the decade — besting all three Spider-Man films.
The Brothers Grimm would be proud of this cautionary fable with formaldehyde, flies and more funky-denture action than seemingly possible. Allison Lohman stars as a bank teller who runs afoul of a vindictive gypsy with generous connections to The Man Downstairs.
A parking-garage assault proves quintessentially old-school Raimi — testing the PG-13 as far as stapled-shut eyes, shattered dentures and gumming attacks will allow. Paul N.J. Ottosson’s vigorous sound design maximizes these copious jolts, generating unease like gears grinding on a Tilt-a-Whirl. Christopher Young’s gypsy-fiddle score recalls Danse Macabre. And Lohman’s performance upends expectations of likeability with a sleight of hand.
Raimi’s Spider-Man movies were a retreat to count money in an air-conditioned trailer. Here’s hoping he carries over this gulp of humid summer air to his next big-budget effort.