Written and Directed by: Sam Raimi (2009)
“Drag me to Hell” is a sometimes funny and often startling horror movie. This is what it wants to be, and that is what it is. After scaling the heights with “A Simple Plan” and slugging a home run with the “Spider-Man” franchise, it’s like Sam Raimi is taking some personal time and returning to his hobby. – Roger Ebert
Raimi obviously returns to his Evil Dead roots for this film. I am a huge fan of this guy’s work because I enjoy the combination of outrageous gore effects and over-the-top movie plots. Similar to the Evil Dead movies, this one is scary and funny in equal measure. What’s interesting is that he plays on the contemporary economic crisis as a basis for this horror comedy. It’s fun to watch his antics in a current day situation as opposed to something that took place in the ‘80’s or medieval times. The current day villain becomes the bank loans officer, an interesting concept! I think overall, critics and normal people like myself can appreciate this genre of horror; Drag Me to Hell won the award for “Best Horror Film” at the 2009 Scream Awards and the 2010 Saturn Awards. There you have it folks, it’s winning awards… if you’re a fan of scary movies, I recommend watching Drag Me to Hell at least once.
The plot focuses on ambitious, loan officer Christine Brown (Alison Lohman), who tries to impress her boss by refusing to extend a loan to a gypsy woman by the name of Mrs. Ganush. Seeking revenge, Ganush places a curse on Christine that, after three days of escalating torment, will plunge her into the depths of hell to burn for eternity! Raimi embraces age-old clichés like Gypsy curses and gateways to Hell. With this scenario in place, Raimi then proceeds to have a ball.
The next series of bizarre events are classic Raimi style. Lohman is smacked repeatedly in the air by an invisible force, terrorized by poltergeists, and has horrific nightmares about the disgusting old Gypsy and her looming fate. In one priceless scene she has to go over for a nervous dinner with her boyfriend’s rich, snobby parents. While sitting at the table, Christine is repulsed by a slice of homemade cake that she pokes through carefully with her fork in disbelief. I will leave a little mystery here and let you find out for yourself what special ingredient is inside. Yum! During this whole exhausting ordeal, her attempts to ward off the evil fail time after time.
In her last attempt at freeing her soul, she finally seems to have figured a way to break this dreadful curse and things are beginning to look up for poor Christine. But are they? I won’t spoil the ending for you, but if you are familiar with Raimi, you can probably predict the outcome. He is a master at maintaining a particular type of tone within his films; scary without being unwatchable, and revolting without losing humor.
I think the audience learns three important lessons from the movie: 1) Never say no to an old Gypsy woman with a blind eye and rotting fingernails, 2) Never dig a grave during the thunderstorm of the century… and finally, 3) Financial Institutions are the devil! Little could Christine have anticipated that the penalty for a mortgage extension denial would lead to her being dragged down to hell.
In some cases, I don’t think that a successful horror flick should be judged on how appalled and horrible it leaves you feeling afterwards. Sometimes, you watch them because it’s fun and exciting. Because you want your heart to race with the thrill of anxiety and because you want an honest excuse to cling to your date’s arm with all your might at the theatre. I didn’t feel horrible at all when this movie was over, I felt reinvigorated, giddy, and absolutely sure of one thing: That Drag Me to Hell is as successful a horror film as the next. Keep ‘em coming Raimi!