Drag Me To Hell
June 9, 2009 by Zack
I didn’t know this film was done by Sam Raimi at first. I have to admit my ignorance, and I will take the beating I deserve for not staying up on a genre that I typically pride myself being a connoisseur of. So, I apologize to everyone including myself for looking at this film at first and going, “Yeah. Right.” PG-13? Strategically placed by the studio as “The Strangers” was last year to generate a mid-season sleeper buzz? No thanks.
That attitude completely changed when I read that the film was directed and co-written by Sam Raimi, and co-written with his brother, Ivan. Now, these two haven’t worked together this closely since “The Evil Dead” series, and we all know how that went. Probably 3 of the most beloved cult horror/comedy films of all time.
“Drag Me To Hell”, in time, could be headed for the same vault. It takes every good element of a horror film and stretches it to the point where you can’t see the lines in the fabric anymore. It’s ironed to perfection, and while Sam Raimi hasn’t dabbled in this genre for some time; he makes his return a triumphant one, illustrating again why he’s a master of the genre.
The story revolves around curses, and begins in 1969, in Pasadena, in which a young boy is troubled by strange voices and has with him a cursed item, a necklace that was stolen from gypsies. It’s always the gypsies, isn’t it? The boy winds up being visited by a demon, the Lamia, who literally drags him to hell–thus beginning the film.
Forty years later, we are introduced to Christine Brown (played wonderfully by Alison Lohman), and her boyfriend Clay (played by Justin Long, in a rather bland role), who are thrust into the same situation the boy suffered from when she does not allow an elderly woman, Mrs. Ganush, another extension on her loan. Mrs. Ganush angrily shouts at her, and curses a button on Christine’s jacket, and soon after, Christine starts hearing voices and seeing Mrs. Ganush visiting her in nightmares–and then, assaults her in the parking lot late one night.
Christine’s got her own share of problems, dealing with a smug and backstabbing co-worker (played deliciously by Reggie Lee), who stands in her way in getting a promotion to assistant manager. David Paymer plays her boss, and in one of the more amusing scenes, is on the wrong side of Christine as she gets one of the most obnoxious nose bleeds I’ve ever seen. When she starts losing control, she finds through a fortune teller that there may be a way to appease the demon, and she tries a few different ways (some of them are quite funny, if a bit sick) to get the demon to leave her alone.
Of course, it’s never easy getting rid of a demon, and when Christine gets downright assaulted by the gypsy Mrs. Ganush, you’ll wince in disgust while laughing hysterically at some of the hi-jinx that ensue. After all, the Fun Demon Spirit is familiar territory for Raimi, and it’s plastered all over the movie. If it hadn’t been done before, this movie would be an instant classic. But, since the best of it happened in “Evil Dead 2”, this seems more reminiscent than fresh. It is no less hilarious, though. Let me be clear on that.
All in all, this movie is a real treat for those (like me) who have lost a lot of faith in the horror genre–especially the attempts at horror comedy lately, which have mostly been a bust. Raimi still knows how to make your skin crawl while making your stomach hurt laughing so hard, and he deserves credit for that. If you’re looking for a 100 minute escape and enjoy a bit of sick humor laughing at these poor souls staving off demons and disgusting Eastern European gypsies, go see this movie. It helps to be in on the joke that this is pure camp, even if it does scare you out of your seats a few times–don’t take this film too seriously. But there is actually a quality message the film provides too if you pay close enough attention, and it’s more than just “stay away from gypsies”. That should be pretty obvious to everyone in the world.
But you may not want to buy anything to eat before or…even after.