Sunday, May 31, 2009

As discussed

David Edelstein on Drag Me to Hell:

It’s Grand Guignol grand opera.

It’s also timely, its bloodbath born of economic desperation; even the séances cost an arm and a leg (not literally, but almost). Really, if the decrepit Gypsy woman (the aptly named Lorna Raver) carried health insurance, she wouldn’t need to borrow from her mortgage money to pay for her glass eye (and maybe that milky orb would fit more snugly in its socket)—and our good-hearted loan-officer heroine, Christine (Alison Lohman), wouldn’t find herself under pressure to deny the old bat an extension. Alas, Christine’s timing is disastrous. Desperate for a promotion, under the watchful eye of her boss (David Paymer), eager to prove to the wealthy parents of her boyfriend (Justin Long) that she’s not some underling off the farm, she tells the gypsy, “I’m sorry.” Much screaming, clawing, and emission of bodily fluids later, Christine winds up with a hellacious curse on her head—a casualty of capitalism.


Christian Lindke said...

Not enough torture to be classified as Grand Guignol, one wishes Edelstein actually knew what Grand Guignol was and how the Times wept when it became tame, but I am a bit Sam Raimi fan and one can see his talents at using classic tropes in disturbing ways.

One wishes that the text message generation would do some reading, or watching of films, and realize that it is a bad idea to cross a decrepit Gypsy woman. One usually ends up on the wrong side of things. A few moments away from twitter spent watching The Wolfman, Thinner, or the TV series Angel -- let alone reading fairy tales -- might have saved this young woman a great deal of suffering.

To quote the Times lamenting the "Fading Horrors of the Grand Guignol" in 1957:

"The undisputed queen of the Grand Guignol, in those days, was a generously proportioned actress called Maxa. No character in the Comte de Sade's novels ever suffered so many wrongs. Not an inch of her body was spared. She died more than 10,000 times in some sixty different ways, and was raped more than 3,000 times."

"The Grand Guignol is guignol for adults: the punches are merely harder and more varied, the Judies more molested."

Tulkinghorn said...

I guess this business of obtuse political commentary is considered a feature not a bug....

Somebody should explain to Edelstein that our economic problems were caused in part by banks doing just what this girl didn't do: lending too much money to people with insufficient means to pay it back.

What starts out as a nice contemporary twist on the stock figure of the heartless money lender (in earlier times, Jewish) becomes in this guy's hands, an irritating message.

Why do you read him?