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The Hex Files

Timothy Barber
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DRAG ME TO HELL<br /><strong>Cert: 15</strong><br /><br />BACK in the mists of time &ndash; or the early Eighties &ndash; Sam Raimi invigorated the schlock horror genre with the first Evil Dead movies, before moving on to hit pay-dirt with Spiderman. At the moment, fifteenth-rate horror films are 10-a-penny, the genre disappearing up its own, highly ironic backside. A good moment then for Raimi to hove back into view with the most gloriously scary horror flick in years.<br /><br />In sub-prime America there&rsquo;s probably a few people who wish they could do what Drag Me To Hell&rsquo;s old crone does to Alison Lohman&rsquo;s loans repayments officer, Christine, at the&shy;&shy; start of the film. Desperate to prove to her boss that she&rsquo;s capable of making tough decisions, Christine turns down the old lady&rsquo;s request for a mortgage repayment extension, condemning her to eviction. Big mistake. The old lady places a nasty curse on Christine, who learns from a psychic that she faces three days of torment by a malicious spirit &ndash; after which it will drag her to hell where she&rsquo;ll burn for eternity. Oops.<br /><br />Thereafter, we&rsquo;re strapped in for a thrill-ride of sheer horror of the kind that only Raimi could dream up, as Christine is beset by visions and terrors of the most over-the-top nature. It&rsquo;s a high-energy onslaught of diabolical awfulness that&rsquo;s as amusingly absurd as it is maddeningly frightening.<br /><br />Lohman does well as the willowy blonde being pulled into damnation, while Lorna Raver has great fun as the hideous old bat with a knack for demonic hexes. As ever with Raimi&rsquo;s movies, there&rsquo;s a delicious thread of tongue-in-cheek humour running throughout, and the 15 certificate highlights the fact that the filmmaker doesn&rsquo;t need to rely on senseless nastiness to create unmitigated frights. This is imaginative, visceral entertainment of the best kind, and will leave you thinking twice before crossing an old lady.<br /><br />FUGITIVE PIECES<br /><strong>Cert: 15</strong><br /><br />ADAPTED from Anne Michael&rsquo;s acclaimed 1997 prose-poem book, this is itself a poetic and moving consideration of loss, memory and sadness, an impressive and beautiful film.<br /><br />Opening in a Polish village in 1942, the film tells the story of Jakob, a young Jewish boy who sees his family murdered by Nazis. After hiding in a forest, he is rescued by a kindly Greek archeologist, Athos Roussos (a captivating Rade Sherbedgia), who was working on a dig nearby. He takes Jakob to the safety of his Greek island for the rest of the war, after which they emigrate to Toronto.<br /><br />Years later, Jakob grows up to be Jake (British actor Stephen Dillane), a writer as obsessed with the past as his surrogate father is. Jake is haunted by the memories of his childhood and the last visions he had of his parents and sister. His relationship with his wife Alex (Rosamund Pike) falls apart due to his obsession with the past, as he searches for reconciliation and reason.<br /><br />This is a meditative film that drifts easily between different periods of Jake&rsquo;s life. Its slow pacing might be too much for some to bear but it&rsquo;s nourishing nonetheless &ndash; full of gorgeous imagery and profound ideas. Director Jeremy Podeswa has created an evocative, melancholy drama about a man tortured by memories that have all but enslaved him. It&rsquo;s a gentle, tender film featuring a fine central performance from Dillane.