After Army of Darkness, Sam Raimi took a break from horror to do other things. Of course, those ‘other things’ included directing the original Spider-Man trilogy, so Raimi kept himself busy. Two short years after the letdown of Spider-Man 3, Raimi returned to horror with Drag Me To Hell. Co-written with his brother, Ivan, Drag Me To Hell was a box office and critical success. Raimi showed he hadn’t missed a step as a horror film director. Now new audiences can discover this recent classic on Netflix.
Bank loan officer Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) is pushing hard for a promotion to assistant manager. Despite her strong work ethic, Christine’s manager worries she can’t make the ‘tough’ decisions. To prove him wrong, Christine refuses a mortgage payment extension for an elderly woman, Mrs. Ganush. Disgraced and facing foreclosure, Mrs. Ganush curses Christine. With a demon now threatening to ‘drag her to hell’, Christine desperately searches for a way to free herself from the curse.
Drag Me To Hell Delivers Wildly Fun Scares
Simply put, Sam Raimi delivers an insanely fun horror film with Drag Me To Hell. Watch it and tell me that Raimi hasn’t missed a beat since Army of Darkness. There’s just such a mischievous sense of glee behind the horror in this movie. Christine’s parking garage encounter with Mrs. Ganush is an easy highlight. Everything in this scene works – the sound effects, the visuals, and the jumps. It’s the kind of scene that inspires equal amounts of screams and laughs.
Raimi clearly didn’t empty out his bag of tricks with Army of Darkness.
One of the things that repeatedly stands out with each viewing of Drag Me To Hell is the perfect balance achieved between scares and gross-out laughs. Raimi clearly didn’t empty out his bag of tricks with Army of Darkness. In contrast to the ‘torture porn’ subgenre from the early 2000’s, there’s no mean streak clouding Raimi’s horror. If you want to find a movie that can silence the debate about the R-rating in horror, it’s right here. Drag Me To Hell is pulpy, silly, and it knows it. From projectile nosebleeds to insects in cakes, Raimi’s ‘old tricks’ are just as much fun as they were in the 1980’s.
Foreclosure of a Dream
Certainly other critics probably noted that the timing of Raimi’s mortgage parable was pretty good. Less than a year removed from the 2008 financial crisis, Raimi’s story of a a cursed loans officer must have hit a nerve for a lot of viewers. To put it into perspective, I recall taking walks in my neighbourhood and seeing several homes with pink foreclosure notices taped to doors.
The cruel twist of fate that struck hundreds of homeowners while big banks got bailouts almost begs for good subversive horror. Indeed, horror always works best when it’s about something else under the surface. Of course, Drag Me To Hell shouldn’t be confused as a straight examination of the perils of greed. Most audiences can enjoy this movie without troubling themselves with deeper questions. But an interesting aspect of Raimi’s story is Christine Brown. While she is an empathetic character, Raimi’s script and, particularly the ending, still implicitly implicates her in the financial crisis. There is an interesting commentary running beneath Raimi’s Grand Guignol set-pieces.
Alison Lohman Gives Drag Me To Hell Heart
Much of the credit for Drag Me To Hell is given to Raimi’s direction and the wonderfully over-the-top gross-out effects. But its performances are also a delight to watch. In particular, Alison Lohman is perfectly cast as the self-conscious Christine. She balances out that ambition and self-preservation that in part drove the 2008 financial crisis with genuine likability. It makes the film’s ending a little more of a downer and gives the movie some heart.
As Christine’s boyfriend, Clay, Justin Long is the reliable ‘every guy’, a characterization at which Long consistently excels. Dileep Rao is one of those supporting actors who quietly makes any scene in which he appears better. Not surprisingly then, Rao delivers a quietly fun performance in Drag Me To Hell. But it’s Lorna Raver, as Mrs. Ganush, who steals the movie whenever she is on screen. As much as viewers will like and identify with Christine, Raver ensures her Mrs. Ganush is a human and sympathetic character.
One of the Best Horror Films of the 2000’s
Sam Raimi is one of the horror genre’s most beloved creators. Drag Me To Hell is a clear is a clear illustration of why Raimi is afforded so much respect for fans. With its 14A rating, Drag Me To Hell is a good gateway horror film for new, younger viewers. It’s scary and wonderfully gross without forgetting to let its audience have some fun. Hopefully, this modern classic will find a new audience on Netflix.
THE PROFESSOR’S FINAL GRADE: A