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Drag Me to Hell (2009)

Christine Brown has a good job, a great boyfriend, and a bright future. But in three days, she's going to hell.

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 99 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 15

As a girl who sees the Evil Dead films as some of the best the horror genre has to offer, I was wary of Sam Raimi’s dip back into the pool of fright. I mean, I like Spiderman and all, but it’s been a long time, both literally and figuratively, since the days of Ash and those maniacally laughing stuffed heads, and I worried that Raimi had gone all Hollywood. Well, he has, in some ways, but Drag Me To Hell is, more than anything, a wink, wink, nudge, nudge to the Evil Dead fans dedicated (read: “nerdy”) enough to have watched the behind the scenes stuff from his early movies.

Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) just wants to shed her farm girl past and get a promotion at the bank, so one day, she goes against her own judgment and conscience and refuses to give an old, very unhygienic gypsy woman (Lorna Raver) an extension on her loan. This gets her in the good graces of her boss, but results in a big ol’ curse that involves all sorts of terrors, and, as Christine learns, will eventually lead to her soul being carted off to hell unless she and her boyfriend Clay (Justin Long) can figure out some way to fight the ancient evil.

I think I loved this film even more just because almost everything that’s tried to pass itself off as American horror lately has either been derivative and predictable, a lame remake, an excuse for naked teenagers and/or pot references, or an unholy and always dull alliance of all three. Drag Me To Hell is none of the above. For one, the characters actually have personalities, you don’t wish them dead, and the performances from Lohman, Long, and scary gypsy curser Raver are all strong. Lohman is an especially wise choice, as she’s neither too sexy or too tough—she’s average, but there’s spunk in there. And Long, well, both he and his character are strangely appealing—more so, I think, than they would’ve been in other hands. Also, the story’s good—when I heard that the lead girl got cursed to hell because she refused an extension on a loan, I was skeptical, but it plays, dare I say, believably. The best part of this, though, is that Raimi manages to both frighten AND entertain. Some of the creepiest bits are nothing more than shadows (or, if you’ve seen the commercials, flies), and even in the over-the-top trademark Raimi moments of gross-out fluids or borderline-camp, the story stays focused and keeps us watching. Both a twisted fan letter to his fans AND a downright scary horror film, Sam Raimi is back to his sleep-with-lights-on roots and I, for one, am thrilled.

It's Got: Freaky shadow goats, flies in bad places, scares and laughs.

It Needs: To be seen by anyone trying to make horror movies in the US.


Sometimes funny, often scary, Drag Me To Hell is exactly what a horror gal likes in her movies—blood, goats, bugs, and people I don’t want to see die.