Sunday, August 08, 2010

Bankploitation, anyone?

Sam Raimi’s wonderful Drag Me to Hell has been rightly praised for a return to the director’s horror roots. But the film is more than just a horror film. It may be the first film of a new genre -- bankploitation. The genre, which surprizingly has not yet taken off, would feature stories about revenge against the evil banks. As hard as it is to believe, there was a time not too long ago in 2008, long before oil companies were re-instated as villains, that the banks and financial markets were considered evil. The bankers freely gambled away people’s futures thereby leading to a serious financial crisis. People’s anger grew but there was nothing the common person could do. Even governments bend over backwards to give the banks more money (sounds improbable but seriously true) thereby allowing the banks to return to their profit making ways in less than no time. So the common man/woman were left helpless with no one willing to provide an outlet for their anger and frustration. That outlet finally arrived in 2009, when Sam Raimi came to the rescue with his film.

Christine Brown plays an innocent, honest and hard working woman, who is hoping to get the position of assistant manager at her bank.
But she is worried that her hard work and time with the company won’t be enough as a recent hire Stu is determined to suck up to the boss to get the position. When an opportunity to prove her assistant manager credentials literally comes knocking on her desk, Christine decides to ditch her good hearted ways.
Mrs Ganush has failed to meet her mortgage payments despite getting 2 bank extensions but she does not want to lose her familial home and asks Christine for a 3rd extension.
Christine goes to her boss to consult the case. Her boss explains that the bank would stand to make money by rejecting Mrs Ganush but still leaves the final decision in Christine’s hands. So Christine decides that the only way she can move up the bank ladder is to do what all the other male bankers before her did and reject Mrs Ganush, thereby making a decision to profit the bank and seal her progress into the assistant managerial chair.

Mrs Ganush begs Christine, gets down on her knees, and kisses Christine’s skirt, but Christine panics and calls the security guards.
Mrs Ganush feels shamed by Christine’s reaction and tries to strangle Christine.
Christine manages to escape unharmed but spends the rest of the film trying to avoid getting dragged into hell after a curse is put on her head by Mrs Ganush.

Drag Me to Hell shows that if a bank employee merely treats their customer as a means to advance their career via beefing up the bank’s profits, then there could be serious consequences such as an evil demon could be summoned to drag the employee down to hell. Ofcourse, the revenge against the bank is depicted under the guise of a horror film as the story strictly adheres to the horror film template of having an innocent female in distress. It does seem unfair to inflict a death curse on Christine after her first male-induced cold hearted decision but horror films rarely show mercy to female characters. In this sense, Drag Me to Hell merely conforms to the standards of throwing female characters under the bus (or train). Maybe in the future some other director might do go the full Bankploitation path and call their film ”Wall Street: Money Drags You to Hell”.

On another note, Drag Me to Hell does one thing rarely seen in horror films -- it includes a scene where the evil demon attacks Christine in broad daylight, breaking away from the convention of depicting horror only at night time.
While the film manages to be funny and packs some scares it is ofcourse pure fiction. Because if there were real gypsies capable of cursing bankers, then maybe some of the financial men might have thought twice about their reckless decisions.