Movie Review
Drag Me to Hell
Drag Me to Hell poster
By Craig Younkin     Published May 29, 2009
US Release: May 29, 2009

Directed by: Sam Raimi
Starring: Justin Long , Jessica Lucas , Alison Lohman , David Paymer

PG-13 for sequences of horror violence, terror, disturbing images and language.

Domestic Box Office: $42,057,340
C
Raimi prefers going over the top. It's not so much scary as it is repetitive and irritating. What we're watching is just ridiculous.
For all the loan officers expecting another scare to go with their economy woes, rest assured, Sam Raimi's trip back to horror won't send you running for your mommies. Raimi likes to combine humor and gore and from what I understand, "The Evil Dead" trilogy is considered classic for its great combination of the two. There are people who love the Raimi brand, although after watching "Drag Me to Hell" I can honestly say that I'm not one of them. This is campy horror, with more of an emphasis on cornball than on actual scares.

Alison Lohman plays Christine Brown, a loan officer fighting for a promotion from her boss Mr. Jacks (David Paymer), but continuing to come up short in the male-dominated office. She is told that she needs to show she can make the tough calls so when an old gypsy woman named Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver) asks her for a third extension on her mortgage, Christine denies her, sending the old woman into hysterical begging. Christine just shrugs her off, insulting her. That night in the parking garage, Ganush gets her revenge, pulling the young girl out of her car and placing a hex on her. Thinking Ganush is just a crazy old bitch, Christine tries to forget all about it but it doesn't take long for her to realize that the curse is real. She starts to see strange, haunting things, even a deformed Ganush keeps appearing in her dreams. Her college professor boyfriend Clay (Justin Long) doesn't believe her and neither does her boss. Her only source of help comes from Rham Jas (Dileep Rao), a psychic who explains to her that she has been cursed and is being tortured for three days by the demon Lamia before being dragged into hell for all eternity.

Raimi prefers going the over the top route. His scare tactics include letting the screen go very quiet before turning the soundtrack up to a deafening level. It's not so much scary as it is repetitive and irritating. Plus, what we're watching is just ridiculous. Take the scene where Ganush attacks Christine: The two women staple and knock each other around in a moving car that bounces off other cars in a parking lot, the scene mirroring something out of a "Three Stooges" script more than anything "Stephen King-ish." There is also a sťance scene with a lot of silly looking special effects (one a talking goat) and another scene where Christine is attacked by a haunted scarf. Things squeak, rattle, bang, and creak for dramatic effect. And Raimi doesn't stop there. Just cause the flick is PG-13 doesn't mean you can't be disgusting. Projectile vomit, spit-up, a gushing nose bleed, dentures, poor hygiene, flies, and various other mouth-related incidents are used to increase the gross-meter every couple minutes. Lohman is a trooper. Raimi throws all the torture he can at her and she takes it with equal parts dread and strength, easily being one of the best horror heroines to come around in a while. Long is always nice to see but believing him as a college professor? No way.

"Drag Me to Hell" really fails in its scares though. They're cartoonish, PG-13 rated, and more funny than they are scary. They fall in the genre of comedy-horror, one that I don't have much experience with and hope not to have more of in the future. This movie reminded me of Eddie Murphy's try at this type of genre in "Vampire in Brooklyn" and I consider that movie to be one of the worst I've ever seen. The story here is thankfully a bit better but it's still not really worth caring about, which only leaves the guilty pleasures. And those only come if you like your scares in the laughable variety.
Craig's Grade: C
Craig's Overall Grading: 340 graded movies
A10.9%
B41.8%
C31.8%
D15.3%
F0.3%
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