Theatrical Review: Drag Me To Hell

Christine Brown is a bright, young bank loan officer, she’s got a solid relationship with a young professor and she’s up for an assistant manager position at her bank. But the bank manager is still waffling on his choice for the job, edging towards someone with more initiative than what Christine has had. An elderly lady, who’s just really creepy from the start, comes into the bank wanting an extension on her home, and when Christine presents this to her manager, the manager gives Christine the chance to make the call. Christine chooses this one time to make the tough call, in a moment of big ambition, and denies the woman her loan. When the woman then begs to have her reconsider, things really begin to go awry for Christine, as she later finds that she’s just crossed an old gypsy who’s put a horrifying curse on her.

That’s the basic premise to Sam Raimi’s newest movie, Drag Me To Hell, which finally has the acclaimed director returning to his roots with over-the-top, tongue-firmly-in-cheek horror, and I have to say I was just entertained with this movie from start to finish. Raimi mad a name for himself with the Evil Dead movies and further with the Spider-Man films, and with Drag Me To Hell he really looks like he’s having a lot of big-ass fun getting back to his roots.

Now, there’s things here that you know will happen, that almost has to happen and while some might find that familiarity tiresome, I thought it was a really fun ride getting there. This is over-the-top, but a few shades less than say what Sam did in Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness but still it has those moments when you know you’re for sure watching a Sam Raimi horror movie. To me as well, this follows the path of old E.C. Comics as well, and when you’re doing this kind of horror movie, those comics are always great templates to go by.

Allison Lohman plays Christine Brown, and it’s pretty much her film. she’s got a delicate line to cross here, in both being sympathetic and at the same time totally deserving of what’s going to happen to her, and I think she does a pretty good job. I could only imagine how this was pitched to her- “Now, Allison, we’re going to have a lot of fun with this movie, but there’s one catch- you’re going to end up with a lot of gross stuff literally in your face, so hopefully, kiddo, you’re up for that…” And I have to say, Lohman had to be a good sport on this film, as she does just that, end up with having a face full of grossness at least five or six times during the film. she’s backed up with Justin Long as her boyfriend, and David Paymer serving a supporting term as the bank manager, as well as others. But probably the other biggest presence in the film is the old lady, Sylvia Ganush, played by Lorna Raver, and she’s pretty much felt throughout the film, though she’s not on-screen the same way Lohman is.

Whenever I’ve talked horror movies with people in the past, the question of whether something is scary often comes up. I don’t really get “scared” by horror movies any more (that kind of went away in my mid teens) and find that the more effective films usually have a more disturbing quality to them more than anything else. I don’t really see Drag Me To Hell as that much of a “scary” affair and I don’t necessarily think it’s supposed to be- it is predictable, but really most horror films like this are supposed to be and when they’re really well put together, then for me, the ride is really enjoyable. The ending that this movie has is the ending that it has to have and when the moment comes, I was genuinely entertained by it, and for a big studio made film, I think this one really delivers the goods.

About Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

31. May 2009 by Darren Goodhart
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