Drag Me to Hell marks Sam Raimi’s return to the horror genre he made such a wonderful contribution to with the Evil Dead trilogy (ok, so Army of Darkness is more campy in tone, but it’s still fantastic).
The story focuses on a young loan officer, Christine Brown (Alison Lohman), who has a good boyfriend (Justin Long) and is competing for an assistant manager job with a snivelly suck-up named Stu. To better improve her odds, she turns down a Gypsy woman’s request for a third extension on her home loan repayments, and the Gypsy woman (Lorna Raver) vows vengeance. Basically, the Gypsy does what all film Gypsies do and puts a curse on our protagonist, condemning her soul to be dragged into hell within 3 days. The rest of the film concerns Christine’s dealing with this curse and trying to rid herself of it. How she does this, and the eventual payoff, I’ll let you see for yourself.
This is easily one of the most enjoyable horror films to be released in years. Raimi has always had a natural ability with campy horror, and he hasn’t lost any of his luster. The film has an effective mix of comedy and horror; there are actually a good share of moments that shock and worry us. And the film is amusing without going over the top with campiness. Well, the goat scene might stray that line a bit (watch the movie). However, the film isn’t perfect. The ending is quite the letdown, an anticlimax that does something of a disservice to everything that previously occurred.
Alison Lohman could have a good future in horror films; she certainly has the lung power for them. Seriously, she’s an impressive screamer, and that helps here. She has a genuine presence and is able to naturally suggest a vibe of innocence and charm; we like her, we root for her. It’s always a critical mistake to put douchebags in the lead roles of a horror film, because you naturally want to root for the victims. Long is solid as the boyfriend, and has a couple good one-liners. It’s nice to watch him and not think of him as the Mac Guy. Raver is suitably creepy as the Gypsy, and Dileep Rao brings a little more gravity than you’d expect to the role of the seer Rham Jas. It’s a refreshing feeling when you see that no actor is voicing in a performance, which is all too tempting in films of this genre.
So I can definitely recommend the film. It’s a lot of fun, and is made with considerable skill. This makes me want Sam Raimi to do more horror films.