Drag Me to Hell

09/23/2015 20:26

Film: Drag Me to Hell

Year: 2009

Director: Sam Raimi

Writer: Sam Raimi and Ivan Raimi

Starring: Allison Lohman, Justin Long and Lorna Raver



This is a film that I periodically check out from time to time, as I do have to admit, it is fun. I actually saw it in the theater while in college the first time and then a few times on DVD. I did get the chance to check it out again on 35mm when it was part of the Horror 101 series at my theater. The synopsis for this film is a loan officer who evicts an old woman from her home finds herself the recipient of a supernatural curse. Desperate, she turns to a seer to try and save her soul, while evil forces work to push her to a breaking point.

We start back in 1969. A farm worker (Alexis Cruz) and his wife (Ruth Livier) bring their son (Shiloh Selassie) who has been cursed by a gypsy for stealing a necklace is brought to Shaun San Dena (Adriana Barraza). She tries to break the curse and do battle with the force that is after him, but to no avail. The boy is taken to hell before her eyes.

We jump to the present where we follow the loan officer from the synopsis. Her name is Christine Brown (Allison Lohman). She is trying to get a promotion to be the assistant manager at her branch. Her boss, Mr. Jacks (David Paymer), is trying to decide between her or the new guy, Stu Rubin (Reggie Lee). At the moment, Mr. Jacks isn’t sure that Christine can make the tough decision and that’s holding her back.

A decision like this is placed before her, when an old gypsy woman, Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver), comes for another extension on her mortgage. She already has had two and she is still late on her payments. Chrstine asks if there is anything she can do, Mr. Jacks tells her that the bank can make money on the fees and that it is up to her. She denies the elderly woman and when she begs, Christine shames her in the elderly woman’s eyes by calling security. Mr. Jacks reassures Christine that she made the right decision.

Later that day, Mr. Jacks talks to Christine about his loan she is working on. It is the biggest this branch has seen and he wants to show it to the regional manager. He asks her to finish it up that night, which would make her the leading candidate for the promotion. She is excited, but that takes a turn. She notices in the parking garage, Mrs. Ganush’s car. Christine gets into her own vehicle and notices the old woman in her backseat. They two of them get into a tussle, which ends with a button being ripped off Christine’s coat. A curse is placed on it and it is given back to Christine. Mrs. Ganush says the name, Lamia.

The police are called and then Christine is taken out by her boyfriend, Clay Dalton (Justin Long) for dinner. Ending the night, Christine hears something that Clay doesn’t. She then notices a fortune teller and decides she wants to try it. Clay is a psychology professor, so he doesn’t buy into it. He does allow her to try it out though. The fortune teller is Rham Jas (Dileep Rao). He seems like a con-artist and Clay is even more skeptical. Rham has to cut his reading short as he is spooked by something.

Christine starts to notice some odd things. She sees strange shadows and is attacked by something in the dark that night. She reaches back out to Rham who reveals that he does know more. He tells her that Mrs. Ganush might have cursed her with the darkest of entities. He tells her of a few ways to try to break it, but no matter what she seems to do, the Lamia is still after her. Can she break this curse before it drags her to hell?

During this viewing, my thoughts were it’s your typical Sam Raimi horror movie. It is gross, there are a lot of things that make your stomach turn and he pushes the limits with it. What really hit me is with these things, it really is like Evil Dead II with CGI.

I do like this story though, as it isn’t too complex. We have someone who did the right thing business-wise and trying to make the tough decision. What she did probably doesn’t make her a good person, but I can connect with Christine that you have to follow the rules and guidelines that your job has for you. It sometimes can be sad, but your hands can be tied.

Going from that, I like the idea of a gypsy curse. I don’t necessarily think that Mrs. Ganush is directing her anger to the right place, because Christine didn’t really do anything. I do know when you’re frustrated though, you can be somewhat misguided in your decisions.

The pacing of this story is pretty well done as well. I didn’t have any issues there and we really don’t waste any time. It is interesting that the film runs about 100 minutes, because it really drags for me. If anything, I do think they could have slowed down to help the build the tension a bit more. I do think that the curse does jump into it a little bit too fast to be honest. Some of the comedy does hurt the tension for me as well, as you know I’m the biggest horror/comedy fan. I do like how it ends, the curve there was good and I like that we didn’t get the happy, clinched ending.

Acting for the film is pretty solid as well. I thought that Lohman was quite attractive, but there is a depth there as well. I could actually connect with her in that she doesn’t have the highest confidence. She doesn’t like to tell people know, even if it is the right thing to do. There are some aspects to her past that are shown subtly early on that really help there. Long I thought was solid in support of her. I also like the comedic aspects he brings to this film as well. I almost wish they would have used more of that than some of the slap-stick things we got. Raver is great as the villainous old woman and I also thought that Rao was solid. Much like Clay, he adds a bit of comedy at times. The rest of the cast rounded out the film for what was needed for me.

Now to what I had my biggest issues with, the effects of the movie. It is crazy that we have director Sam Raimi, who was the low budget master with Evil Dead. There were practical effects in that look much better than a lot of what we get here. I’ll admit, not all of the CGI in this film was bad, but a good portion of it was. It really did take me out the film quite a bit. There were some practical effects, which were fine, but this is the biggest disappointment to it for me. It is shot well aside from that, I do have to commend Raimi on his eye for shots.

The last thing to cover would be the soundtrack. I would say that overall, it was pretty solid. There are some creepy things that happen in which only Christine notices it. I really like that aspect. We hear whispering that gets louder each day; there are heavy footsteps from the entity and things to this effect. It was used quite effectively I do have to say in building tension.

Now with that said, I do have my issues with this film, but overall I’d say that it is pretty solid still. I like the idea of this gypsy curse and someone trying to logically deal with it. Having Clay being a psychology professor is an example of that. I do think that for the most part the pacing is good. It does build tension, but I would have liked to see the comedy reigned back a bit. The effects for the most part were CGI and I wasn’t a fan. The acting is good though and I’d say that the soundtrack was used effectively. I don’t think this is a great film, but it did have potential. I’d still say that it was above average overall.


My Rating: 7 out of 10