Drag Me to Hell
Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) is an ambitious L.A. loan officer with a charming boyfriend, professor Clay Dalton (Justin Long). Life is good until the mysterious Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver) arrives at the bank to beg for an extension on her home loan. Should Christine follow her instincts and give the old woman a break? Or should she deny the extension to impress her boss, Mr. Jacks (David Paymer), and get a leg-up on a promotion? Christine fatefully chooses the latter, shaming Mrs. Ganush and dispossessing her of her home.
In retaliation, the old woman places the powerful curse of the Lamia on Christine, transforming her life into a living hell. Haunted by an evil spirit and misunderstood by a skeptical boyfriend, she seeks the aid of seer Rham Jas (Dileep Rao) to save her soul from eternal damnation. To help the shattered Christine return her life to normal, the psychic sets her on a frantic course to reverse the spell. As evil forces close in, Christine must face the unthinkable: how far will she go to break free of the curse?
Touted as a return to Sam Raimi’s horror-movie roots, Drag Me to Hell is indeed closer in spirit to the director’s Evil Dead pictures than to his Spider-Man films. You got your gypsy gargoyles with rotted dentures, your upchucking corpses, your flexible two-way orifices—yes, Raimi’s definitely back in the saddle. There’s even a story: a sad loan officer (Alison Lohman) turns down the aforementioned denture-wearing gypsy for a loan extension, which leads to an evil curse and a date in hell in three days’ time. A séance, an animal sacrifice, and a session in a storm-tossed graveyard will make the 72 hours pass very nervously, thank you, along with assorted scares. Justin Long plays Lohman’s upper-class boyfriend, and Raimi fills the rest of the cast with some unusual and unfamiliar types. Along with the giddy horror-comedy that bursts out of the movie every 10 minutes or so, there’s also an underlying mood of pity: Lohman’s character is something of a hard-luck sad sack, who does enough wrong things to make her seem like a truly abject individual, well outside the heroic model of most multiplex offerings. (Lohman’s own little-girl-lost quality adds to this feeling.) But don’t let that get in the way of the fun-ride aspects of this goofy enterprise: Drag Me to Hell is a bunch of Z-movie gags wrapped in top-drawer production values. —Robert Horton
After dedicating himself for the best part of a decade to the Spider-Man franchise, director Sam Raimi returned to the horror genre with tremendous style in 2009 with Drag Me To Hell. A film that fused together the ethos of the director’s earlier Evil Dead movies with the toolbox of tricks that he’s picked up since doing big blockbuster movies, it’s a fabulously fun and quite unnerving piece of cinema.
Raimi’s working on a lower budget than we’ve seen him with for some time with Drag Me To Hell, but not for the first time, he makes every buck count. Few directors know the horror genre as well as Raimi, and he generates tension and jumps from clever set-ups and expertly executed sequences. Plus, he’s little intention of following the horror movie template here, which adds to the sheer entertainment factor.
So what’s so special about the Blu-ray? The extras package isn’t particularly enticing, after all. Yet the picture quality and quite stunning sound mix lift the film notably. The latter in particular, as the sound stage is swamped by subtle noises and audible shocks works extremely well, and is perhaps the best among a few reasons for considering a high-def upgrade here. A strong movie, wonderfully presented. —Jon Foster