Horror at Cannes: Part 2

19 May 2009 at 17:15 (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

In my previous post, I discussed three of the more exciting horror entries in competition at Cannes, including von Trier’s since premiered Antichrist that has the press in a tither over its scenes of genital mutilation, graphic sex, and talking animals. Of the responses I have read, Manohla Dargis of the New York Times seems to take the fairest approach, meeting the film halfway by viewing it as largely ironic.

But while industry critics continue to reel over von Trier’s inflamatory film and grandiose statements, some films screening out of competition are quietly making a different kind of statement. Specifically, Sam Raimi‘s latest film, Drag Me To Hell, has piqued my interest for its perfectly-timed foreclosure themes. The director of the Evil Dead series takes a break from Spiderman to return to his roots with a horror entry starring Alison Lohman as a loan officer who is cursed after denying an old lady an extension on her home loan payments. Here’s the trailer:

Talk about tapping into the cultural zeitgeist! The conceit has a lot of potential to critique America’s ownership society, though I worry that the centrality of the Lohman character will personalize these issues in a way that depoliticizes them. Then again I like the framing of Lohman’s motivations as an effort to move up the corporate ladder, and the trailer seems to deliberately reference gender biases by mentioning a male rival with less experience. Still, I’m wary of how the film will approach issues of class and ethnicity, given the old woman’s Eastern European accent and grotesque make-up. But a peak at the film’s poster suggests that the film may be socially aware:

Drag Me to Hells poster, taken from iwatchstuff.com.

Drag Me to Hell's poster, taken from iwatchstuff.com.

I’m struck by the background images of large, sepia-toned houses, as well as Lohman’s business-attire wardrobe. Such details point to a conscious effort on the filmmakers’ parts to comment on the role of excess in the flailing economy.

It’s exciting to see a filmmaker translating the current economic crisis into a horrific fable, and the buzz from preview showings has been universally positive. Luckily for me, I won’t have to wait long for this one to hit theaters: Drag Me to Hell is slated for release May 29th after its Cannes screening.

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