Pros: A little humor, a lot of suspense, and thrills that will make you jump.
Cons: Justin Long was not utilized well.
Drag Me to Hell. (2009) Directed by Sam Raimi
Sam Raimi returns to horror. It's kind of a big thing. Drag me to hell is the story of
Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) a loan officer at a bank. She is hoping to move up to the assistant manager's position, but is facing some stiff competition from Stu Rubin (Reggie Lee) the new guy, whose skills at sleazing and brown nosing are far superior to hers. Her manager Mr. Jacks (David Paymer) tells her Stu is a strong candidate because he can make the tough decisions.
So when Mrs. Sylvia Ganush (Lorna Raver) comes in, wanting help with her home being foreclosed, Christine takes the ‘what is good for the bank and my career' choice. Mrs. Ganush is old, decrepit, and blind in one eye. What I don't understand is why her dentures look like the teeth she would have had pulled to have the dentures put in. She is old, ill, and has fallen behind on her payments. She asks for an extension.
Christine, thinking of her career, refuses. Big mistake. Mrs. Ganush begs. She pleads, and Christine, freaked out, calls for security. "You shame me!" the old woman wails, just before she attacks. Ejected from the bank, she leaves, and Mr. Jacks tells her she is on the right track.
But later, as she is going to her car in the deserted parking garage, she spots the old woman's jaundiced car lurking near hers. Nervous, she gets in the car, grateful to be safe from the crazy old bat...who is in the back seat.
The battle is epic. The use of the stapler is hilarious. The damage to your nerves is severe. But eventually, the old woman gets what she wants; a button off Christine's coat. Holding it like the Hope Diamond, she intones a few words in a guttural language, and then presses the button back into Christine's hand. And she is done.
Later, Christine is finishing up with the police as her boyfriend Clay (Justin Long) arrives to take her home. But on the way, a sign in a Psychic's window (the symbol of the eye) prompts her to request a reading. Rham Jas (Dileep Rao) is apparently the real deal, because he sees something that scares the bejeezus out of him.
As the story unfolds, Christine is plagued by mysterious winds, sinister shadows, and growing less subtle attacks, in the spooky style Sam Raimi is so rightly famous for. And worse, they are not always perceptible to the people around her, so she comes across as crazy.
It seems the gypsy used the Lamia to curse Christine, and for three days it will torment her, and then finally, drag her to hell. What is Christine to do?
Well, that is sort of the point of the movie, isn't it? This is not ground breaking cinema, but it is well done. Sam Raimi has a gift for pacing and suspense, for using unusual camera angles, and using humor to lift the mood so he can dash you down again. And this is classic Raimi.
It also features some pretty decent acting; for Ronnie Lee as the despicable Stu, and Dileep Rao as the psychically endowed Rham Jas. Alison Lohman of course carries the movie, and does it well, if not a stellar performance. But Lorna Raver as the malevolent Sylvia Ganush is amazing! Her intensity as a proud woman, her repulsiveness as a groady old bat, and her menace as the harpy of doom is astonishing. She can scare the crap out of you with a look.
One surprising disappointment was Justin Long. He was bland and dull, partly I think because Clay is supposed to be somewhat bland and dull. I know he can act (Jeepers Creepers, Zack and Miri Make a Porno) but here he does not shine.
Of course, that is about the only thing that I really thought was a disappointment. Yes, the movie has elements liberally stolen...um, borrowed from other movies. The cursed item could just as well be a line of runes from The Demon. But who cares? I went into the theater wanting to be scared and Sam delivered the spine shivers. I was satisfied.
Plus, tell me that if it was within your power to send some of the Loan Officers you've dealt with straight to Hell, you would not be tempted?