Review: ‘Drag Me to Hell’
I love you, Sam!
‘Drag Me to Hell’ marks director Sam Raimi’s return to horror-comedy and does so with much twisted joy. Raimi hasn’t made a film of this type since ‘Army of Darkness’ in 1992. Sure he made ‘The Gift’ in 2000, but that was more of a straight psychological horror. ‘Drag Me to Hell’ is firmly planted in his natural element, featuring Raimi’s full-bodied comedy with strong earthy undertones of horror that culminates in a wonderfully evil finish.
Raimi’s sense of humor is unmistakable as he clearly still derives his inspiration from his trifecta of muses, The Three Stooges. While there is a great deal of generally funny bits that counter-balance the scares in this movie, there are also a slew of inside jokes and references making this a kind of Raimi encyclopedia of cinema style. What makes these moments even more enjoyable, is that you instantly know who is a member of the Sam Raimi fanboy club because only a select scattered laughs echo throughout the theater as the general audience wonders what was so funny.
The story follows Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) as she attempts to secure an assistant manager promotion at her bank by proving she can “make the tough decisions” but unfortunately chooses the wrong customer to cut her teeth on. Lorna Raver plays Mrs. Ganush, the old woman whom Christine refuses an extension on her mortgage, ultimately resulting in the old woman’s placing a curse on Christine which gives her three days before a dark spirit called the Lamia comes to collect her soul, or as the title implies, drags her to Hell.
‘Drag Me to Hell’ has a few jump-in-your-seat scares, but is mostly a fun thrill ride with dark humor. The one major “scary” scene occurs upon the old woman’s first attempt at revenge against Christine while in the parking garage. Aside from this, the movie is primarily a comedy of the less traditional sort. Justin Long plays Christine’s boyfriend Clay, giving a decent performance with his share of comedic moments, but is definitely a supporting character as this movie is all about Christine Brown.
For the true Raimi-ites out there, be happy and reassured to know that “the classic” returns for it’s usual cameo, however appears with much more frequency in this film than is custom. For those of you not in the know, “the classic” is Raimi’s yellow 1973 Oldsmobile Delta 88 that he makes a point to include on screen in every one of his movies. In addition to “the classic” Sam’s brother Ted also makes his usual cameo appearance, but I’ll let you figure out where he shows up. We’ll call it a pop quiz to see if you were paying attention.
Overall, ‘Drag me to Hell’ is an enjoyable romp through what is likely a semi-working vacation for Raimi before diving back into the ‘Spider-Man’ franchise. Allegedly, Sam and his brother Ivan (who write almost everything together) originally wrote the screenplay for ‘Drag Me to Hell’ upon completing ‘Army of Darkness’ but was put aside in favor of other projects. So, theoretically, this was a movie 17 years in the making.
Much of the plot is fairly predictable and the CGI isn’t the greatest in parts, but the film isn’t about the mystery or the glitz. ‘Drag Me to Hell’ is all about having a good time watching Raimi indulge his cinematic inner child once more amidst an era of bigger fish he gets to fry.