Review: Drag Me to Hell

Drag Me to Hell (2009)
99 minutes
Rated PG-13
Directed by Sam Raimi
Starring:  Alison Lohman, Justin Long


Grade:  B

There’s something about laughing during a horror movie that intrigues me.  Usually, it’s a result from the nerves within the audience during a suspenseful sequence.  Your heart is pounding with anticipation for something to pop out of the corner and to lighten the tension, you let out a small chuckle to ensure your surroundings that you’re doing fine.  Or someone might offer some advice to the soon-to-be-victim like, “Don’t open that door!” which could attract a few laughs around the room.  And then there’s that aftermath of a shock-scare that lingers with a buzz of smiles and giggles and, “That made me jump” comments.  All of this is in the fun that the horror genre brings, and all of this is present in Sam Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell.

Although Raimi is known better for his involvement directing the Spider-Man franchise, he’s an accomplished horror director with the Evil Dead films and his personal joy for the genre is evident in Drag Me to Hell.  There is plenty of shock value in this film but without much gore since it has a PG-13 rating.  Still, you will be grossed out, you will jump with surprise, you will laugh and most importantly you will have a grand time.

So the story goes something like this.  Christine (Lohman) is a loan officer who is competing for a promotion with Stu (Reggie Lee).  To show she’s serious about the promotion and to prove she can be stern with customers, she turns away an extension on the home-loan payments owed by Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver), a gypsy who starts all the trouble.  The gypsy then puts a curse on Christine where an invisible demon haunts her for a few days until she would be dragged into hell.

There are also subplots with Christine’s boyfriend, Clay Dalton (Long) and his disapproving mother, the sabotage in the workplace for the promotion, and Rham Jas the fortune-teller and the mentor Christine flocks to when trying to get rid of the curse.  Of course the only thing that really matters when you’re being hunted by a demon is to stop being hunted.  Unfortunately, that’s a lot easier said than done.

Alison Lohman is pitch perfect for this role.  She can scream really well, she has a youthful vibe about her even though she’s actually 29, and she can scream really well.  Half the time she seems way too calm and collected for someone who was attacked by a one-eyed gypsy, but maybe that just plays into her hard-working, independent character who has a boyfriend bringing her back to Earth during all the supernatural elements.  The other half of the time she is scared to her core.  You see the fear in her eyes and you’re prepared to scream in unison with her exactly when something jumps out.

Drag Me to Hell is purposely corny, hilarious, and scary all at the same time.  It’s a thrilling experience at the movies where you can just sit back (but not for long) and enjoy a well-made film with friends and strangers.  I don’t think I’m alone when I wish Sam Raimi would stick with this genre and abandon the Spider-Man franchise (Spider-Man 4?  Ugh).  This sure beats out the modern torture-porn subgenre from the Saw and Hostel movies.  Give me a horror film that doens’t take itself seriously anyday!


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