Unsung Horror Movies for Halloween: Orphan & Drag Me To Hell
This week I want to hopefully remind people of two of my favorite horror movies that seem to go unnoticed by the movie-going masses, the 2009 shockers Drag Me To Hell and Orphan. Both movies were great scary flicks even though one came from a genre great while the other was directed from an up-and-coming director. But regardless of who was in the director’s chair, both were great films that managed to scare audiences in 2009.
Drag Me To Hell was director Sam Raimi’s return to his horror roots after his turn with the blockbuster Spider-man trilogy. Raimi, director of the original Evil Dead trilogy, returned to horror and proved to his fans that he did not forget how to scare people. Drag Me To Hell was written by Sam and his brother Ivan and starred Alison Lohman, Lorna Raver, and Justin Long.
The movie focuses on Christine Brown (Lohman), a bank employee with hopes of advancing at her branch. Because of this, Brown refuses to extend a loan to a gypsy woman named Mrs. Ganush (Raver) to save her house, to hopefully impress her boss. In retaliation, Mrs. Ganush places a curse of Christine that will torment her and eventually drag Christine to the depths of hell.
Mrs. Ganush then attacks Christine and later Christine and her boyfriend (Long) learn that she is being haunted by a powerful demon called the Lamia. Christine later goes to talk to Mrs. Ganush at her home but learns that she had died the night before. Christine is now left to deal with the haunting and to hopefully find a way to survive and rid herself of this curse.
Raimi returned to his roots with this gory and creepy film and didn’t miss a beat. The plot was written out before he directed Spider-man but the film was not made until he was finished with that trilogy. Nevertheless, it didn’t matter when the movie was made because Raimi has a great vision and has not often disappointed fans. Whether it was the Evil Dead trilogy, the Spider-man trilogy, The Gift, or Oz: The Great and Powerful, Raimi has definitely made his share of great films. And the future looks bright as well with talks of Raimi directing an Army of Darkness sequel with original star Bruce Campbell.
Orphan was another horror film released in 2009 but unlike Drag Me To Hell, the director was a relative unknown in the U.S. Spanish director Jaume Collet-Serra directed this shocker after debuting in the U.S. with the 2005 remake of House of Wax. While people may have seen the remake, most people watched it to see star Paris Hilton die on film. Most people did not walk away with a knowledge of the director. But after Orphan, people had to notice Collet-Serra at least a little more.
Orphan revolves around, obviously, an orphan with a mysterious past that is adopted by a family that does not know what they are in for. The orphan is question is Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman), a 9 year-old girl from Estonia. She is adopted by John (Peter Sarsgaard) and Kate (Vera Farmiga) Coleman, a family dealing with the stillborn death of their third child. They welcome Esther into their home to live with them and their two children, deaf-mute daughter Max and son Daniel. While Max quickly attaches to Esther, Daniel is less welcoming.
The family soon realizes that Esther is no ordinary orphan and decide to look into her past a little more. When they begin to do this, Esther starts to retaliate and when she does that, people begin to die. Kate starts to think something is really wrong while John dismisses her accusations. Things continue to unravel with the Coleman family until John is forced to realize that his wife has been right all along. The movie then ends with one of the greatest, and craziest, shockers in recent memory. The audience is left to shake their heads in surprise as the credits begin to roll.
The performances of Farmiga, Sarsgaard, and Fuhrman, along with Jimmy Bennett (Daniel) and Aryana Engineer (Max) are all outstanding and help to make a simple plot even better. While the plot was simple, the twist ending was a great piece of work in a script that was written by David Leslie Johnson from a story by Alex Mace.
After Orphan received mixed reviews from critics, Collet-Serra did not let that stop him as he has since directed the Liam Neeson thriller Unknown. He also has been involved with two films that are set to be released next year. First, he produced the thriller Mindscape which stars Vera Farmiga’s sister Taissa. Then, Collet-Serra directed Non-Stop, an action film starring Neeson and Julianne Moore.
Thanks for reading once more. I hope everyone out there is enjoying a good scary movie or two this Halloween and I just hope I can maybe give you people out there a movie that may have slipped through the cracks. See you again next week.