Drag Me to Hell
dir Sam Raimi
scr Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi
with Alison Lohman, Justin Long, David Paymer, Lorna Raver, Dileep Rao, Adriana Barraza, Reggie Lee, Ricardo Molina, Ksenia Jarova, Bill E Rogers, Bojana Novakovic, Flor de Maria Chahua
release UK 27.May.09, US 29.May.09
09/US Universal 1h39
Drag Me to Hell
Don't make me beg: Lohman and Raver

long barraza raimi
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Drag Me to Hell After nearly a decade in Spider-land, Sam Raimi returns to his roots with this utterly bonkers theme-park horror ride of a movie. It's so ridiculously full-on that you can't help but love it. If grisliness is your thing.

Christine (Lohman) is a bank loan officer, where her efficient efforts to get ahead are being subverted by a sneaky colleague (Lee) who's kissing up to the boss (Paymer). To help her cause, Christine takes the hard line with a gypsy woman (Raver), who in turn attacks and curses her. When odd things start happening, Christine's boyfriend (Long) takes her to a psychic (Rao), where they find out that a demon will come for her in three days unless they can break the curse.

This morality tale a terrific Twilight Zone feel, as Christine tries to make amends for her cruelty, but eventually abandons her principles out of sheer desperation. In other words, it's much more than mere horror. Actually, it's not particularly scary, although the action sequences are brutally relentless and often stomach-churning. And it's packed with haunting character details that make it impossible for us not to identify with everyone on screen.

Lohman is terrific as the nice girl, and watching her lose a grip on her own moral core is remarkably involving. Long gets to add some texture to his slightly thankless boyfriend role. And Barraza eye-bulgingly hysterical as a mythical seer with a connection to the underworld. But the film's most indelible performance comes from Raver as the tenaciously ghastly Mrs Ganush. Made up to look unspeakably vile, Raver really goes for the jugular and keeps us completely unsettled. And Raimi never lets us catch our breath.

It's thoroughly exhilarating to watch a movie that embraces its ridiculous story and characters with such full-on dedication that we can't help but hang on for the ride. It's witty and snappy and surprisingly dark, full of things going bump in the night and corny touches (an anvil hanging by a rope in a garage? a goat at a séance?) that make us laugh just before we cringe from the screen. Indeed, the film is so relentlessly fun that we're powerless to resist.

cert 15 themes, gruesome violence, language 18.May.09

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© 2009 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall