Starring: Alison Lohman, Justin Long, Lorna Raver
Directed by: Sam Raimi (“Spider-Man”)
Written by: Sam Raimi (“The Evil Dead”) and Ivan Raimi (“Army of Darkness”)
Director Sam Raimi returns to his horror roots in entertaining fashion with “Drag Me to Hell,” a creepy, campy, and richly-stylized blood offering from the man who grossed us all out with his “Evil Dead” films of the 80s and 90s.
After sinking his teeth into the blockbuster trilogy “Spider-Man” for five years, Raimi proves he still has a grip on fiendish humor and doesn’t even need actor Bruce Campbell to make it work. In the bluntly-titled “Drag Me to Hell,” Raimi and screenwriting partner/brother Ivan give us a story about cursed souls and the demons who await their arrival into the underworld.
The film stars Alison Lohman as Christine Brown, a self-conscious loan officer who has her hopes set on a promotion at her bank. While she one of the two leading candidates for the position, her boss makes it clear that he wants her to take initiative and make more bold decisions for the benefit of the company.
Christine gets her chance to impress her supervisor when Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver), an old, unsightly Gypsy woman with brittle fingernails and ghastly rotted teeth, walks into the bank to ask for a third extension on her mortgage. When Christine denies her insistent requests, the old woman casts an evil spell on the young loan officer and seals her fate for a fiery death.
Now hexed with the spirit of the Lamia, a violent and devilish creature who stalks her every move, Christine and her skeptic boyfriend Clay (Justin Long), attempt to find a way to rid her of the entity before her three-day window shuts and she is dragged into the pits of hell forever.
While the story is fairly basic and becomes entirely too predictable, Raimi shows audiences that horror films built on traditional ideas and scare tactics are just as effective as any computer-generated fluff most American horror uses as a crutch today. This is what was specifically great about films like the “Evil Dead” series. Grotesque makeup, stop-motion techniques, and other rare treats in the genre that aren’t used nearly enough are showcased sparingly in “Drag Me to Hell.” It’s when Raimi allows other influences to manipulate his aesthetic when the movie gets the messiest. It’s doesn’t happen too often here. Horror fans of all ages (because of the PG-13 rating) will end up going on a trippy and repulsive ride.