Drag Me To Hell

Rating 3

Directed by Sam Raimi

Written by Sam Raimi and Ivan Raimi

Starring Alison Lohman (Christine Brown), Justin Long (Clay Dalton), Lorna Raver (Sylvia Ganush), Dileep Rao (Rham Jas), David Paymer (Mr Jacks), Reggie Lee (Stu Rubin), Adriana Barraza (Shaun San Dena), Molly Cheek (Trudy Dalton), Chelcie Ross (Leonard Dalton), Bojana Novakovic (Ilenka Ganush) and Kevin Foster (Milos)

Christine Brown is a loans officer who is trying to secure a promotion at the bank where she works. Told that she has to prove her ability to make hard decisions, she rejects the request of Sylvia Ganush to extend her loan, meaning that the old woman will now be evicted from her house. When Mrs Ganush goes down on her knees to beg, Christine calls Security to have her escorted from the building. In retaliation, Mrs Ganush curses Christine, condemning her to terrible torment for the next three days, after which she will be dragged to hell. It is now a desperate fight against time to find a way of ending the curse before it is too late.

Sam Raimi is one of the masters of American horror films, having first made his name with ‘The Evil Dead’ in 1981 and its two sequels. His films as a director have been diverse, frequently taking him outside the horror genre, and in recent years he has concentrated on the hugely successful ‘Spider Man’ franchise (a fourth film is currently in pre-production and is due for release sometime in 2011). ‘Drag Me To Hell’ is Raimi’s first horror film as a director since ‘Army of Darkness’ in 1993, unless one counts his excellent 2000 gothic psychological thriller ‘The Gift’. The film was released in 2009 to near universal praise and often ecstatic reviews – and has been described as the best horror film of the decade. It has a 92% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes from 202 reviews and a reasonable but not overly impressive worldwide box office gross a little under $83 million, against a production budget of $30 million.

Reviewing the film for the British daily newspaper The Independent, Anthony Quinn called it, “cheap, nasty and rather a magnificent.” I am not convinced it is any of these things. It definitely is not cheap and nasty, but neither is it particularly magnificent. It certainly harks back to horror films from an era before Wes Craven’s ‘Scream’ trilogy and it has absolutely nothing in common with the loathsome likes of ‘Hostel’ and ‘Captivity’. There is plenty of slapstick humour to be found here and it is expertly made, bearing many of the hallmarks of Sam Raimi’s directing style. Somehow, though, I never really engaged with the film. Part of the problem I suspect is simply that I guessed almost immediately where it was heading and simply spent the next ninety minutes waiting for that to happen. The reviews, generally, seem a little over-effusive to me, but, in fairness, perhaps I am missing something and should watch it again sometime.

Ellen Page was originally cast in the role of Christine Brown, but had to pull out, which is a pity. I didn’t have any previous awareness of Alison Lohman and while her performance here was perfectly competent, I didn’t really like it very much – there just seemed to be something missing.

‘Drag Me To Hell’ is a film I think I would probably defer judgement on at this stage. I certainly seem to be out-of-step with general opinion about it, but while I didn’t dislike it by any means, I came away feeling slightly underwhelmed by it all.

Review posted 5 November 2009

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