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Drag Me to Hell (2009) September 14, 2009

Posted by Dragan Antulov in Film Reviews.
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A Film Review

Copyright Dragan Antulov 2009

Current economic woes that are, sometimes euphemistically, referred as Global Recession, tend to reflect themselves in various places, sometimes quite unexpected. Some of those reflections could be found in supernatural horror films made by contemporary Hollywood. One such example is protagonist of DRAG ME TO HELL, 2009 film directed by Sam Raimi.

Christine Brown (played by Alison Lohman) is a young, ambitious loan officer who lives in Los Angeles. On surface, her life looks good, since she dates college professor Clay Dalton (played by Justin Long) who is not only good-looking, but also has wealthy parents. Underneath, she still has to deal with legacy of unhappy childhood, poverty and broken home, as well as increasingly vicious office rivalries. Christine comes to conclusion that she can professionally advance only by showing her boss Jim Jacks (played by David Paymer) that she can make tough decision. Opportunity comes in form of Mrs. Ganush (played by Lorna Raver), elderly Gypsy woman who, like many people these days, can’t pay mortgage and will lose house. Christine rejects her pleas for loan extension and Mrs. Ganush doesn’t react very well – physical altercation is followed by terrible curse. Since Mrs. Ganush is actually a very powerful sorcerer, Christine is faced with increasingly nasty apparitions. Spiritual advisor Rham Jas (played by Dileep Rao) explains that the she has three days to lift the curse, otherwise she will face eternal damnation.

Contemporary economic crisis provides interesting backdrop to otherwise simple and rather predictable horror movie plot. Another, more interesting and more important thing about DRAG ME TO HELL is the fact that Sam Raimi returned to his roots by making another combination of supernatural horror and dark comedy. Experienced viewers, even those who aren’t great fans of the genre or Raimi, can predict what would happen on the screen. What they can’t predict is how Raimi would portray that. Author of EVIL DEAD again shows great creativity by spicing cliched situations with ingenious details. One such example is Christine having to battle handkerchief or deal with Mrs. Ganush’s denture.

However, Raimi’s ingenuity wasn’t enough to compensate for this film’s major flaw – uneven and too ambiguous characterisation of the protagonist. Script by Raimi and his brother Ivan gives many hints that Christine doesn’t actually meet the moral standard of average Hollywood movie protagonist, making her at times closer to being villain. Idea of protagonist turning into villain had a lot of potential, but it wasn’t explored nor properly used. In the end, that idea was wasted, just like the talents of Alison Lohman, otherwise capable actress reduced to another thankless role. Thankfully, DRAG ME TO HELL is relatively short and competently directed, which is enough for most fans of the genre and Sam Raimi.

RATING: 6/10

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