Review: “Drag Me To Hell”

So I finally got around to seeing Drag Me To Hell, Sam Raimi’s return to the horror genre after a lengthy detour through Marvel Comics territory with two of the best super-hero movies ever (Spider-Mans I and II) and one super-hero movie that kind of stunk (you know which one I mean). While not as loopy as Raimi’s earlier classics Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness, and not as straight-up horrific as the original Evil Dead, DMTH is still a lot of fun — sort of like Darkman with maggots.

The plot is your basic demonic-vengeance story, in which Alison Lohman’s loan officer character, Christine Brown, denies a loan extension to the wrong old gypsy woman.  (Evidently she never read Thinner.)  The gypsy responds with a highly effective curse, and mayhem ensues.  This being Raimi, the mayhem is frequently hilarious and over-the-top gross, including a couple of scenes that reminded me of the infamous “mucous” scene from my own book A Flock of Crows is Called a Murder (more than one reviewer specifically cited this scene, so I think it qualifies as infamous, at least by my standards).  There’s also a scene that nicely echoes the flying eyeball from Evil Dead II and then goes it one (or should I say two?) better.  Anyway, if you enjoyed Raimi’s earlier slapstick horror offerings, you will enjoy this movie.  If on the other hand you are a fan of films like Saw, you’ll probably find DMTH’s widespread positive reception rather baffling.

Oddly, or perhaps not so oddly, the scene that I found most cringe-inducing did not involve the demonic attacks on Christine; it was the scene when she met her boyfriend’s wealthy, disapproving parents.  Yikes, potential future in-laws!  There is also a nicely done bit toward the end, in which Christine is trying to unload her curse onto someone (anyone) else, that had me on the edge of my seat even though nothing particularly horrific happened during it.  If I have a quibble with the film, it’s that the twist at the end isn’t much of a surprise, but it was still effective.

The performances are good, particularly Alison Lohman as the afflicted loan officer.  I also enjoyed Dileep Rao’s fortune teller character. Justin Long was good as the boyfriend, although he’s not around for most of the scenes of supernatural terror, which almost makes him seem like he wandered in from a different movie, or possibly from an Apple commercial. Lorna Raver is good in a generically crazy way as the old gypsy, and Bojana Novakovic has a small but memorable part as the gypsy’s daughter.

My wife was already asleep when I started watching this movie.  If she had been awake, I don’t imagine she would have lasted much past 20 minutes or so.  Once the workplace drama of life as a loan officer was over and the supernatural stalking started, I’m pretty sure she would have conked right out.

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