Posted on May 29, 2009 by Flames
Directed by Sam Raimi
Starring Alison Lohman and Justin Long.
Always treat others how you like to be treated, or else you will get a sinister Gypsy curse placed upon you. Within 3 days your life turns to hell, and then you go to there.
The movie tells the story of Christine (Lohman), a young loan officer who is struggling to get a promotion at her bank. She faces stiff competition from Stu (Reggie Lee), a conniving trainee who wants the same assistant manager position Christine wants. When the opportunity comes to make a decision that will help her career, she decides to foreclose on Mrs. Ganush’s house. Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver) believes Christine has shamed her by refusing to help her keep her home, and stalks Christine to her car. After an over the top fight scene involving car crashes, a fist fight involving office equipment, and a vicious gumming at the hands of Mrs. Ganush (you read that right), she places a curse upon Christine, calling on the Lamia to exact her revenge.
Christine seeks comfort with her husband Clay (Long), who is a psychology professor who does not believe in the paranormal and seems to express an atheistic element to the movie. He is supporting of his wife, even going so far as to support her going to see a fortune teller named Rham Jas (Dileep Rhao) and being a source of constant reassurance for her.
As the movie progresses, Christine suffers from an endless series of bad luck and pure mystical attacks by the Lamia as it makes her life come crashing down upon her. Christine fears for her life, as few seem to believe her and Rham Jas’ offers of help keep failing. She is desperate, even willing to try absolutely radical plans to save her soul. She turns to Rham Jas and his friend Shaun San Dena (Adriana Barraza) to help fight the Lamia on a supernatural level.
While it is impossible to reveal more about the plot without revealing many spoilers, the film stays true to Raimi’s old horror films. She is the quirky yet funny hero who must face an other-wordly opponent and tries radical, thought provoking, and sometimes darkly humorous actions to try to save the day. The movie has all the elements of a Raimi movie; sudden bursts of action, surprising scary moments, and pieces of humor interspersed throughout.
Mrs. Ganush is the primary villain of this movie, eclipsing the role that the Lamia has as the main villain. Her spirit harasses Christine throughout the movie, sometimes inspiring pure terror and sometimes bringing out the movie’s horror. When compared to the threat of the Lamia, Mrs. Ganush represents a slow, painful death full of disease and brutality where as the Lamia is seen as the ultimate force of destruction, swift and merciless.
The horror in the film comes from the unexpected. Mrs. Ganush lashes out at near random moments, and sudden shifts in the shadows fill the audience with dread. The soundtrack is the biggest sign that something terrible is going to occur, with sudden violin playing and booming bass notes tearing through the silence. Sudden zoom ins and zoom outs help with surprising the audience, as Mrs. Ganush can appear out of nowhere.
The movie’s small cast captures their roles well. The film was not overly complicated and the supporting characters in the movie accented the plot. While at times the plot feels cheesy or repetitive, Long and Lohman do their best to spice up the dialogue or keep the scenes flowing. Long and Lohman work well together, as their relationship in the movie seems close and real. Other characters, such as Rham Jas, give the supernatural elements of the movie a deeper meaning. Although he felt like he was giving exposition on the Lamia at times, Dileep Rhao performed well as the stereotypical fortune teller who knows too many dark secrets.
To say that Drag Me To Hell lacked social commentary discredits the film because of how much it forced it on the audience. While it tried to portray how treating others with dignity and respect should be how everyone lives their life, it takes this to the extremes. Christine knew she should have given Mrs. Ganush an extension on her house and she had the power to do so, but in the end the one time she is cruel to another person she is damned to hell for it. Christine is portrayed as having trouble admitting she did anything wrong, even when the Lamia is breathing down her neck. It felt forced throughout the entire film in a similar way to Raimi overusing the “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility” line throughout his Spider-Man movies.
One problem I had with the film was how by the end of it, you were exposed to so many sudden twists and scares that by the time the credits start to roll you feel exhausted. Some of the scary scenes were genuinely scary; the sudden shadow movements, the old woman’s grotesque nature, and the first few scenes where the gypsy appears will make you jump and twist in your seat. This becomes overused by the end, appearing in rhythmic routine with the music and losing their ability to instill fear.
Drag Me To Hell offers a near endless series of twists and shockers that will more than satisfy any Raimi fan and will still appeal to those who love horror movies. For those who were expecting something different however, it is still on par with Raimi’s Evil Dead trilogy. The plot was not original but has short moments of originality entwined within.
I am giving this film 3 out of 5 Flames, as it was entertaining and the humorous moments help keep the movie from becoming boring.
Review by John D. Kennedy