DRAG ME TO HELL – A really FUN time at the movies
Drag Me to Hell is one of those movies that needs to be seen with a sizable crowd as it truly is one of the best audience participation films I’ve seen in quite some time. It’s so over the top crazy that the amount of fun you will have with it, will most certainly be elevated by experiencing the laughing and screaming of fellow moviegoers during this rollercoaster experience. While Drag Me to Hell is far from perfect, it is a blast and in an era of torture porn horror this is a refreshing experience that harkens back to Sam Raimi’s roots with his Evil Dead films. Remember when you could laugh and scream at the same time and not just be grossed out by gruesome violence. To be perfectly honest I laughed much more than I screamed as the film felt like 30% The Exorcist and 70% Road Runner.
Basically the plot is simple A opportunistic but naive young bank officer named Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) gets the idea from her boss (David Paymer) that if she wants to be promoted, she needs to make “the hard decisions.” What he means is that she needs to turn down more loan applications and be less forgiving of debtors’ excuses. You get the sense that she doesn’t feel right about it, but she needs the promotion. Wouldn’t you know, the very next customer she deals with is a mysterious, life worn woman, Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver– great in the role), who is several payments behind on her mortgage and badly in need to a trip to the beauty parlor. When she sits at the bank desk and removes her false teeth, both top and bottom you know this isn’t a women with a taste for good hygiene. That scene sets the tone for what Raimi is aiming for here.
When she kindly asks for more time to pay up Christine, manipulated by her boss, says no. Mrs. Ganush begs and literally gets on her knees and pleads to no avail. Christine says no. Mrs. Ganush causes a scene and is quickly escorted from the bank by security, then confronts Christine later in the parking garage, in a scene that mixes straight horror elements and over the top Sam Raimi style gross-out high jinks (like Mrs. Ganush getting a staple to the eye) that are wildly humorous. Raimi seems to have a soft spot in his heart for regurgitation and if you like this sort of stuff he doesn’t disappoint. This overall scene is both repulsive and brutally funny and brought the house down. During this Malay, Mrs. Ganush places a curse on Christine. The result of which is that in three days, Christine will be dragged to hell, literally.
From here on out Lohman’s Christine becomes desperate, evolving from a misguided loan officer into someone who will do whatever it takes to shake off this gypsy’s hex. Watching how this plays out is what makes the film so much fun. Raimi takes Lohman’s character from sweet to desperate – someone willing to do whatever it takes to eradicate this curse, and it’s hysterical to watch some of the choices she makes as she travels along her path. Justin Long (Clay Dalton) is a welcome presence playing her professor boyfriend, skeptical of her new found plight but willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. In all honestly, I can’t remember laughing this hard at a movie in quite some time. I know that might sound strange as Drag Me to Hell has been marketed strictly as a horror flick but it’s actually really funny. I guess I would classify it as a horror comedy with Raimi’s old school footprints all over it.
In a footnote- Ellen Page (Juno) was originally cast as the film’s lead but bowed out during pre-production citing a scheduling conflict. With her Juno like line readings, boy would this have been a very different film. Not quite sure if that would be for the better, even though I’m a Page fan. As is, I give Drag Me to Hell 3.75 zombies out of 5. A FUN time at the movies and a refreshing change of pace for the genre.
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