They don’t make ‘em like this anymore, so Sam Raimi decided to do something about that.
Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) is a loan officer at a small bank. When she denies Ms Ganush (Lorna Raver), an elderly gypsy woman, an extension on her mortgage, Christine finds herself the subject of a gypsy curse that will see her dragged to hell by a powerful evil spirit, unless she can find some way to break the curse. To do this, she enlists the help of spiritual medium Rham Jas (Dileep Rao), much to the chagrin of her psychology professor boyfriend Clay (Justin Long).
Drag Me To Hell is a wonderfully old-fashioned horror flick, bouncing from laugh-out-loud funny to jump-out-of-your-seat scary in the blink of an eye. While modern horror films have a frequently distasteful and almost boring obsession with gore, Drag Me To Hell is a masterclass in scares. The film has more jumps than can be counted, more disgustingly horrible things than bears thinking about and enough suspense and creepiness to fill at least four Hollywood knock-offs.
From the very first frame, Raimi wants you to know that he’s returning to his Evil Dead roots. (Literally – the film opens with the old, 1980’s Universal logo, just like with Evil Dead.) It doesn’t take long for Raimi to show us that directing the Spiderman trilogy has dulled his sense for scares not one iota, with the film’s prologue containing some wonderful frights and jumps. Raimi also pays some wonderful homages to others in the horror genre throughout – when Christine is in the grave, see if you can spot the homage coming.
Which brings us on to Alison Lohman. I’ve never seen Lohman in anything else before, despite spending the entire film convinced I had, but she doesn’t disappoint. On the contrary, in fact, she is perfect in the role. She brings to the table a wonderful blend of innocence and depravity, weakness and strength, all of which serve to make Christine a superb protagonist of our story. She has a kind heart, but is perfectly capable of holding her own in the ass-kicking department, as we see throughout. On top of all this, Christine is not completely without blame in her situation, despite not being deserving of her curse by any means. All this serves to make the film better rounded than most films of its ilk would bother, and it thrives for this.
With that said, Drag Me To Hell lives and dies on its ability to scare, and it has the ability in spades. I almost leaped out of my seat on more than one occasion, and gripped the armrests in anticipation plenty of times too. I winced in horror, I grinned in nervousness and I cried out in disgust. Everything you could ask of a horror film and more.
A truly superb film from Sam Raimi that only serves to highlight the subpar nature of most of the genre today. You’ll be frightened to your hearts delight throughout. A.