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Friday, August 7, 2009

Drag Me to Hell - A Review

Well, Hell is a four letter word that seems to raise the room temperature whenever it is mentioned in this day and age, especially if the person mentioning it believes in it. If your seat is getting warm and your forehead turning crimson then that is because you are reading a film review about a movie about Hell by someone who actually believes that such a place exists. However, I suspect the real Hell is not quite what Sam Raimi had in mind when he made this film.

In this movie Chirstine, a lovely sweet "girl next door" type, is busting her guts battering her eye lids and flexing her dimpled smile as a loans officer, desperate for an Assistant Manager's position at the bank she works for. However her boss implies that she doesn't have what it takes to make the tough calls such a job demands. Its at this point that a decrepit false-toothed, creased and crinkly elderly woman comes in with a request for her third mortgage extension. Desperate to prove herself ruthless Christine denies the old hag her pleas and calls security when the strange geriatric begs for mercy on her mother's grave. Satisfied that she has won her bosses approval Christine leaves at the end of the day only to be attacked by a more frightening and super human version of the crazed Gypsy (as it turns out) in the parking lot, who after a terrific scene involving the scariest Hanky I have ever witnessed in a movie and Christine defending herself with a stapler, manages to secure a button from Christine's coat. She breathes a curse on the button and leaves Christine with a head ache and a dose of paranoia which soon turns to hysteria as she discovers the curse is one that will take the owner of the button to Hell for all eternity after only 3 days.

Anyone who has seen the Evil Dead trilogy will recognise instantly the same horror style that borders on the humorous while still managing to get a few jumps out of you. From an anvil landing on an apparitions head causing its eyes to pop out like corks and splatter Christine in the face to the same apparition spewing maggots and worms all over Christine's face and into her open mouth one can't help but to cringe and chuckle all at once. Or maybe that was just me. Actually my favourite scene in this whole film was when Christine, usually an animal rights loving vegan, wanders through her house with a carving knife saying, "Here kitty kitty!" so she can appease her grim reaper with a blood sacrifice...

Oh dear...

As far as Horror Movies go I thought it was very well made and I haven't seen anything quite like it for a very long time.

Now for the fun part - was it true?


I have realised recently that modern Christianity in the West has embraced a sort of "Don't mention Hell" position. Maybe it's because modern psychology has relegated the idea of sin and "guilt" to clever little euphemisms and has reasoned them away. Our materialistic world view might not incorporate an after-life, but if it does then that after-life consists of a light at the end of the tunnel and a god who resembles Santa Clause, an Angel with a harp eating candy floss or a Jesus who says, "Come unto me pretty much everyone no matter what you believe..." So Hell is not very popular, after all, most of us are good right, and why would a "loving" God send me into hell?

The Church has adopted a sort of Life Enhancing Gospel where the only reason someone should embrace Christ is because he will make your life super neat rather than the fact that not accepting him will severely damage your experience of the hereafter.

Because the Church don't talk about Hell anymore we have created a vacuum where the only way anyone can learn about this munted place is through the movies. Movies made by people who most likely don't believe in the place, or if they do have a pretty twisted idea of it.

So coming back to this movie, considering most people are aware on some level that Hell is a Christian belief, they will walk away from this movie thinking, "That just sucks. how could Christians believe in that stuff?"

Its sad really.

This movie challenged the idea that someone as sweet and "innocent" as Christine could go to such a place.

The biblical position is this, that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) but the good news is that "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that who ever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

I think people who don't understand Christianity have the whole thing round the wrong way. They think that we worship a God who is bent on sending naughty sinners to Hell when in fact the opposite is true, we worship God who is completely dedicated to rescuing people from eternal damnation.

But wait, didn't God create it in the first place? Yes, of course - for the Devil. Jesus pointed out that the Everlasting Fire was prepared for the Devil and his angels. (Matt 25:40-42) So why would we go there?

Good question. The answer is simply that when Satan, the author of everything wrong in the world, is condemned then he will be taking his belongings with him. Unfortunately his belongings in this sense mean all those souls he managed to swindle out of a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

In a nut shell, when Adam sinned, as well as dying spiritually, he gave up his right of rulership over planet earth and surrendered it to Satan. Everything in creation became the legal property of Lucifer, including mankind. That is why when the Devil is tempting Jesus on the mountain; showing him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor, he says, "All this I will give you!" (Matt 4:9) - because it was his to give! So the answer to the question, "If God is so great then why can't he just keep us from going to Hell?" Is that God is not a thief, stealing is outside of his character therefore he had to purchase us by sending his Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross to receive the punishment in our place. All one has to do is believe on him and we will have instant access into heaven, becoming God's possessions and no longer under the control of the Prince of Darkness.... trust me when I say that God has agents working round the clock, whether angels or bloggers like myself, trying to get that message to you loud and clear so that you don't have to go to that awful destination...

Its sad a lot of people have this idea that the Christian God stands on the edge of some sort of fire proof jetty, pegging lost souls at John Lennon or Adolph Hitler when the truth is that Christians worship Jesus who went to immeasurable lengths to suffer unimaginable pain, not just physically but dying spiritually when he literally became sin on the cross and bore every single evil and disgusting thing done by every human being who has ever lived from Cain to Charlie Manson - its too much to fathom what that must have been like, but believing in it will save your life and set thousands of angels into fits of joy! (Luke 15:10)

I wondered if Raimi's choice to call the Heroine "Christine" was a coincidence? There was a scene where she learns that if she gives the button, and therefore the curse, to someone else then she will be free from certain doom. Only when she sets out to give the button away she discoverers she can't do it because damning anyone to everlasting torment just didn't seem fair to her. In that sense she is like Christ, not willing that anyone should perish and taking the curse upon himself, but somehow, I'm not sure if that's what Director Sam had in mind. I felt he was having a stab at the idea that not even a greedy bank teller deserves such a fate.

Its sad too that when Christine seeks help she goes to psychics and not to a Church. Where Jesus is said to have cast out demons with a word, Christine becomes involved in all sorts of mumbo jumbo which ultimately makes things a whole lot worse.... after all, she chose the blood of her kitty cat to redeem her lost soul when the blood of Christ would have sufficed... but ok, if she figured that out then the movie wouldn't have lasted the 99 mins it did!

So as far as share film making and quality are concerned I would give this film a 7 out of 10 but for doctrinal value or theological accuracy I think something less than a zero would fit nicely...

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