Drag Me To Hell
Review by Jack Foley
IT’S been some time since Sam Raimi made a horror film, largely due to his decade long commitment to the Spider-Man franchise. But the Evil Dead helmer’s long-anticipated return delivers the goods for fans and newcomers alike.
Drag Me To Hell is an almost pitch-perfect mix of jump-out-of-your-seat terror and laughter that has to rate as one of the best American horror films of the year.
Raimi knows his medium well and proves that you can sicken, shock and terrify without resorting to cheap gore tactics, or unrelenting nastiness. This is the type of film that puts the fun back in horror, while leaving you suitably spine-tingled.
And there are references aplenty, from Hitchcock, via Evil Dead through to Night Of The Demon – Raimi clearly has had buckets of fun fitting them all in, while using them to toy with convention.
The plot is pure hokum, but gloriously OTT with it. Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) is an ambitious LA loans officer with a charming boyfriend (Justin Long) and a genuine chance of promotion.
But when she’s asked to display a ruthless streak and decides to deny the mysterious and elderly Mrs Ganush (Lorna Raver) an extension on her home loan, in spite of her begging, Christine suddenly finds herself cursed by the woman and haunted by a Lamia.
Her life thereafter becomes a waking nightmare and she must battle frantically to find a way of lifting the curse before her tormentor, quite literally, drags her to hell.
Raimi’s skill as a director is to keep things simple. His set-up isn’t elaborate and he wastes no time in getting down to business.
Hence, the frights come thick and fast, while the gore quotient is delivered via a fun mix of old-school puppetry, prosthetic make-up and the odd bit of CGI.
Sound effects, too, play a big part, as do shadows and suggestion… while Lohman is put through her paces by being covered in everything from mud and green slime to saliva and slugs and bugs.
Performance-wise, Lohman and Long never really click as a devoted couple, but both do well in their respective roles. The former balances terrified and feisty to convincing effect, while Long gets to display some deadpan comedy as he slowly turns from sceptic to scared believer.
David Paymer, as a slippery bank manager, and Lorna Raver, as the terrifying Mrs Ganush, also get their moments to shine.
But it’s the set-piece moments you’ll remember the most and Raimi competently and cleverly toys with his viewers before delivering jumps and cringes aplenty. Trust me, you’ll have one hell of a good time with this taut little crowd-pleaser that, quite literally, flies by.
Running time: 100mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: October 26, 2009
- Buy it on DVD (Amazon)
- Buy it on Blu-ray (Amazon)
- Read the review
- Sam Raimi interview
- Alison Lohman and Justin Long interview
- Drag Me To Hell photo gallery