Demons! Witches! Capitalists!

Hey, look! An old VHS tape of 'Night of the Demon'!My latest MSN DVD column is up, examining the double-shot of terror that is “Drag Me to Hell” and “The Proposal”.

Well, mostly it’s just about “Drag Me to Hell”. But Sandra Bullock is getting pretty scary these days, you can’t deny it.

5 thoughts on “Demons! Witches! Capitalists!”

  1. On the subject of Alison Lohman, I’d argue that she actually captures a very difficult balance of sweet and adorable, but also a little annoying. You have to sympathize with her, and yet also kind of wish for the demon to get her at the same time. It’s that mix that all comes together at the ending.

    Ellen Page was originally cast, but dropped out at the last minute. She can certainly do the annoying, but I don’t think she’d do as good a job with the sympathetic side.

  2. Considering how well Page uses snark as a shield in “Juno”, I wonder whether she might not have pulled it off. And back to Lohman, I’ve been thinking about the way Mena Suvari’s loathsome character in “Stuck” keeps trying to rationalize away her undeniable responsibility for all the horrible stuff that happens in that movie.

    That seems to me to be what’s missing from Raimi’s film: Culpability. Lohman’s character is portrayed as justified in her decision — everyone says she did the right thing, and the Gypsy is such an over-the-top caricature that even the movie clearly believes she deserves no sympathy. But a more talented actor might have been able to undermine that stance, and given the movie some welcome ambiguity.

    I mean, for all her long-buried childhood issues and fresh-scrubbed demeanor, what if Christine really is a heartless, ambitious twerp who deserves some poetic/diabolical punishment? Wouldn’t that be a better foundation for this sort of movie? I think the script tries to lay that down, but Lohman can’t bring it to life.

  3. Have you heard the theory, Norm, that the entire film is the deathdream of a girl with an eating disorder? Hence the oral fixation–all that force-feeding–and vomiting and pictures of “fat” Alison. And she pointedly never eats in any dinner situation.

  4. I hadn’t come across that, no. It’s a valid reading, I guess, though I’m not sure how the Gypsy curse fits into it on a metaphorical or thematic level.

    … wait, she doesn’t eat Kitty, does she?

  5. A warning to other readers: Spoilers to follow.

    So, anyway, I think the movie does a fine job conveying the sense that Christine is getting a well-deserved comeuppance at the end, just not for the reasons the Gypsy cursed her. The Gypsy wants to curse her for denying the loan and shaming her, but what Christine’s really being punished for is being such a pushover, and acting just so irritatingly sweet and lovable and innocent all the time.

    At the end, she finally starts to own up to the fact that she made that decision to kiss up to her boss, that she’s lived a life completely without any backbone. And then, right as she comes to this realization, BAM. That’s right, bitch, off to hell with you. It’s precisely because she now knows why she’s being punished but is too late to stop it that makes the finale so satisfying.

    As for the anorexia thing, it’s fun to read that into the movie, but I don’t think that (even if it were intentional) it adds anything to the film.

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