UNRATED DIRECTOR’S CUT
Film Year: 2009
Film Length: 1 hour 39 mins (Same length for Theatrical and Director’s cuts)
Genre: Horror (With Some Hints of Comedy)
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
BD Resolution: 1080p
BD Video Codec: VC-1 @ over 25 mpbs
English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 @ an average 4.0 mbps
English Dolby Digital 2.0
Spanish DTS 5.1
French DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Film Rating: PG-13 & Unrated (Horror Violence, Terror, Language, Disturbing Images)
Release Date: October 13, 2009
Starring: Alison Lohman, Justin Long, Lorna Raver, Dileep Rao, David Paymer, Adriana Barraza
Written by: Sam Raimi & Ivan Raimi
Directed by: Sam Raimi
Film Rating: 3 ½ /5
Drag Me To Hell is a return to basics by director Sam Raimi, who started his career by making lower budget horror films like The Evil Dead and its various sequels before finding himself at the helm of the massive budget Spider Man film franchise. For this project, Raimi works with a smaller budget (although at approximately 30 million dollars, this is not what I would consider LOW budget) and creates a truly scary experience. And I have to admit it’s a pretty intelligent film with a sense of humor to it. It’s not the kind of movie I’d normally watch, but there’s no denying that Raimi is a skilled filmmaker who still has the chops (no pun intended) to repeatedly scare his audience. The basic story here concerns a bank employee (Alison Lohman) who turns down a leniency request by an elderly woman and finds herself under a demonic curse that manifests in increasingly horrific ways. There are plenty of the standard “cattle prod” scares throughout, but this is definitely a step above most other entries in the genre. One clear example comes in the form of a séance – something that was badly botched in The Unborn but here takes on a simultaneously scary and witty form. Again, this isn’t for all audiences, but fans of Sam Raimi will absolutely enjoy the mayhem on display here as a great return home. As an added bonus, the film begins with the pre-90’s Universal logo and ends with the classic “Visit Universal Studios” placard after the credits. One caveat: At the risk of spoiling anything from the movie, I must caution animal lovers, particularly pet owners, that this film rather gleefully runs the risk of offending you…
For the home video release, Drag Me To Hell is offered simultaneously in its original PG-13 theatrical form and in a re-edited “Director’s Cut” that runs about the same length. I only watched the unrated version, but my understanding is that it is noticeably bloodier than the theatrical cut. I won’t say that it’s a cut above, as this would risk immediate flaming by outraged readers and Sam Raimi fans…
Drag Me To Hell is being released on Blu-ray this Tuesday, with a high definition transfer in picture and sound, a bookmarking function, BD-Live access, and a collection of 13 brief featurettes that collectively run just over 35 minutes.
VIDEO QUALITY 3 ½/5
Drag Me To Hell is presented in a 1080p VC-1 2.40:1 transfer that displays a range of accurate flesh tones, and spotlights the various effects employed throughout the movie. There’s an appropriate amount of darkness here, and the black levels look solid. The CGI effects blend fairly well with the live action material, lending a bit of reality to images the viewer knows must be completely manufactured. I should note that I am watching the film on a 40” Sony XBR2 HDTV. If anyone is watching the film on a larger monitor and is having issues, please post them on this thread.
AUDIO QUALITY 3 ½/5
Drag Me To Hell is presented in an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix in English, as well as a Dolby Digital 2.0 mix and standard DTS mixes in Spanish and French. As you might imagine from the subject matter, the subwoofer and the surrounds come to life quite frequently here. Between the various cattle prods and the music throughout the film, the theater soundstage is pretty active. And the aggressive nature of Raimi’s storytelling and editing is buttressed by an equally aggressive mix. As with other horror films I have reviewed here, I must caution the viewer NOT to watch this with full blast sound after midnight unless you wish to scare the whole neighborhood, and then yourself when everyone comes over to thank you…
SPECIAL FEATURES 2/5
The Blu-Ray presentation of Drag Me To Hell comes with only a single collective featurette. There is also the usual BD-Live functionality and the “My Scenes” bookmarking feature.
The Making of Drag Me To Hell (1080p, 35:08) – This collection of 13 Production Video Diaries provides a bit of behind-the-scenes material and some droll introductions by Justin Long, but it honestly doesn’t go very far toward explaining the genesis of this film. Essentially, the various diaries each spotlight a specific aspect of the film and provide some footage to explain how the film’s effects were achieved. There’s some quick interview snippets with the cast and creative staff, and several bits of on-set video, but I wouldn’t’ consider this the most in-depth examination. On the other hand, the film isn’t exactly asking for an in-depth examination, when you really think about it.
BD-Live - This Blu-ray includes access to Universal’s BD-Live online site, allowing for the viewing of trailers online.
D-Box- This Blu-ray includes D-Box functionality for those viewers that have this feature in their home theater.
Digital Copy – A digital copy is provided here of the unrated director’s cut.
Subtitles are available for the film and the special features. A full chapter menu is available for the film. The Blu-ray menus also include the “My Scenes” bookmarking feature and a BD-Live User Guide.
IN THE END...
Drag Me To Hell is sure to be a hit with fans of Sam Raimi’s earlier work, as well as with horror fans looking for some fun during the Halloween season. I admit that I’m not much of a horror fan, but I was certainly impressed by both the confidence of craft and by the obvious wit on display here. Sam Raimi fans can rest assured he hasn’t completely devoted himself to the webslinger, and this Blu-ray is a great way for them to enjoy his latest offering. (And yes, that pun was intentional…)
October 10, 2009.