I stood in line for more than two hours to see Sam Rami's "work in progress" screening of Drag Me to Hell at SXSW last month. Raimi was there in person to introduce the film at Austin's Paramount Theatre, and the packed house tore the roof off with a loud, raucous reaction. But will horror fans in general want to see it now that it's been given the dreaded PG-13 rating?
At least two versions of the film have been test-screened, according to Shock Til You Drop, but the version we saw in Austin was more PG-13 than R. As I wrote at the time, "Does that mean that Raimi has softened or compromised his vision? Not at all. The film still has more than its share of outlandish, gross-out moments, they just don't happen to be of the R-rated variety. ... Drag Me to Hell is more a 50s horror comic than an 80s slasher flick." And bear in mind, the rating advisory includes the following note for parents: "Sequences of horror violence, terror, disturbing images and language."
I'm sure I wasn't the only one wondering if Raimi could make a simple ghost story fresh and exciting. Even Raimi said, "I know you're here because you hope it will be good." Well, in my opinion, he succeeded, making a "convulsively funny movie with chills and thrills, suffused with genuine affection for the genre." The PG-13 rating opens it up to a broader audience, with no sense that the film has been compromised.
In short, there's no reason for anyone except hardcore gorehounds to be disappointed that the film received a PG-13 rating. Sit back, relax, and when the film hits theaters on May 29, we can all share a frightfully good time.