Drag Me To Hell (2009)
Main cast: Alison Lohman (Christine Brown), Justin Long (Clay Dalton), Dileep Rao (Rham Jas), David Paymer (Mr Jacks), Adriana Barraza (Shaun San Dena), Reggie Lee (Stu), and Rubin Lorna Raver (Mrs Ganush)
Director: Sam Raimi
Poor Christine Brown. A former overweight provincial young lady, she has since lost weight and found a great boyfriend in Clay, a wealthy psychology professor. She also has a comfortable job as a loan officer. Unfortunately, Clay's mother would rather see her son socialize with women with better pedigree than Christine. Meanwhile, the new guy in the bank, Stu, is cozying up to her opportunistic boss and trying to get himself promoted to loan manager over her.
In her attempt to be assertive and show her boss that she can make hard decisions, she decides to reject an application for a loan extension by a Gypsy crone, Mrs Ganush. Not only does Mrs Ganush goes berserk and try to kill Christine in the basement car park afterward, she also curses Christine. In three days, the demon from hell called the lamia would torment her before dragging her bodily down to hell. As you can imagine, not only does having an invisible demon beating her up and levitating her in the end can put a crimp on her social life, it also sabotages her work life and causes poor Christine to become PETA's lifelong nemesis. Her only hope of salvation lies in two self-proclaimed psychic type, the "aura" reader Rham Jas and the medium Shaun San Dena. Let's hope for Christine's sake that they are genuine and not frauds, because the lamia is definitely the real deal and he means business...
Drag Me To Hell has plenty of elements that make this a recognizable horror movie by Sam Raimi, who also co-wrote the script with his brother Ivan. There are moments of unexpected humor integrated seamlessly with genuine moments of pure terror. What I love about Drag Me To Hell is how effortlessly it builds up the nerve-wrecking suspense and chill without resorting to outright gore.
Unfortunately, like way too many horror movies, this is one that works best when you are not thinking too hard about the story. Creepy scenes come and go, only to be left unremarked by the characters. For example, Christine has a very bloody accident at the workplace, let's just say, and yet a few days later her colleagues behave as if nothing has been amiss. Likewise, there is a twist at the end that I can see coming, thanks to a very obvious early scene of foreshadowing that most experienced horror movie viewers can spot right away. Therefore, when the surprise happens, I'm actually quite disappointed that I correctly guessed that one coming.
Drag Me To Hell also offers a puzzling message. If the movie wants me to wonder whether Christine deserves the curse, then it shouldn't have made Mrs Ganush such an obvious psychopathic villain. After all, Christine is just doing her job, and Mrs Ganush already had two loan extensions. She also has a daughter who can take her in, but she won't accept charity. Instead, she will screech that Christine has shamed her and curse that woman to be dragged down to hell. If the movie wants me to think a little bit more about the morality of the story, I'd suggest that Mr Raimi make this Gyspy woman a little bit less like a crazy bitch who deserves to be run over by a bus a few times over. Besides, if that stupid Mrs Ganush can summon demons, I don't see why that foul creature can't summon a few to help her rob a bank. Unless Ms Raimi's message at the end of the day is that all loan officers deserve to burn in hell, that is. If that is the case, I can only suspect that Mr Raimi's most recent loan application had been rejected, hence this movie.
A little bit underbaked at the end of the day, Drag Me To Hell offers some genuine scary moments but it is far from hard-hitting at the end of the day. This movie is worth a rent or two, but I'd be hard-pressed to come up with a reason as to why one should buy this movie. It's really not that great.
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