Drag Me To Hell Review
Following the disappointing Spider-Man 3, Sam Raimi put the fourth instalment of the franchise on hold in order to return to his horror roots with Drag Me To Hell.
Before he brought Spider Man to life, Raimi was best known amongst film fans for low budget horror movies such as the Evil Dead trilogy and The Quick and the Dead. Since then he has turned his hand to producing, co-founding Ghost House Pictures and working on such recent horror flicks as the re-makes of Japanese horrors The Grudge and The Grudge 2 and vampire movie 30 Days of Night. This year’s production, Drag Me To Hell, puts him back in the director’s chair and sharing scripting duties with brother Ivan who also co-wrote Spider-Man 3 and the third Evil Dead film.
The brothers Raimi have produced an original genre film which is refreshing given the sheer volume of sequels and re-makes that are currently over-populating the big screen. There are no creepy child ghosts here either. Instead the focus is on a gypsy curse that threatens to drag a young woman off to hell. Loan officer Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) has it all – good looks, a nice house, faithful boyfriend (Justin Long), a decent job, even a cute kitty. What she wants however is a promotion to impress her boyfriend’s parents. When an elderly woman (Lorna Raver) comes into the bank asking for a third extension on her mortgage, Christine turns her down, hoping that such a decision will gain her the Assistant Manager position. Her plan backfires as the woman puts a curse on her, damning her to hell in three days. In the mean time she suffers torment at the hands of the Lamia spirit but finds an aide in seer Rham Jas (Dileep Rao) who attempts to assist in ridding her of the curse.
Juno star Ellen Page was originally cast in the role of Christine but had to drop out to scheduling conflicts. Her role in Hard Candy proved she is a force to be reckoned with but Lohman’s performance is pretty darn impressive. Aside from the opening sequence, set in 1969, the character of Christine dominates every scene so it is essential that the audience sympathises with the unlikely heroine. We want to see her escape from the clutches of hell, despite throwing a helpless old lady out onto the streets for her own personal gain.
Lohman first caught my eye in the adaptation of Janet Fitch’s novel White Oleander. Since then she’s not exactly been centre stage when it comes to casting decisions and I think her portrayal of the morally ambiguous bank worker demonstrates that she is capable of much bigger roles than she has been given.
There’s a lot to be said for watching a film on the big screen and Drag Me To Hell is one of those films that deserves to be viewed as part of a large audience; the collective gasps, groans and cries of “eew” all add to the experience. Unlike the Evil Dead films, Raimi doesn’t use gore for gore’s sake and there are surprisingly few blood and guts scenes. Instead, Christine and the audience are faced with maggots, animal sacrifices and projectile nose bleeds that will take the strongest of stomachs to endure.
Raimi’s career has clearly been influenced by classic B-movie horrors and video nasties. Those wishing to see the filmmaker’s return to form shouldn’t expect a traditional horror as this isn’t a film that takes itself too seriously. Hilarious one-liners are scattered throughout the film and many of the most horrific sequences are laughably scary rather than truly terrifying. This isn’t a film that will make viewers want to sleep with the light on... unless you’ve done something to piss off a gypsy lately.