Drag Me to Hell (2009)

In 1957 a family arrives at a Los Angeles mansion with their young boy. It turns out the boy stole a bracelet from a Gypsy wagon, and is now cursed. The mansion is home to a medium (Adriana Barraza) who attempts to help the family, but a demon has other ideas, and comes to claim the boy.

Switch to 2009, and Christine Brown (Alison Lohman). She is a loan officer for a bank. An assistant manager position has just come open. She is highly qualified, but a new employee, Stu (Reggie Lee) is trying to do an end-run around her. Her boss Mr. Jacks (David Paymer) informs her that the position requires someone who is willing to be aggressive. She is also having some uncertainties with her boyfriend Clay (Justin Long), whose mother is insisting that he date only women that can help his position in society.

When ailing Sylvia Ganush (Lorna Raver) enters the bank looking for an extension on her loan, Christine goes against her better angels and denies it, earning the respect of her boss and the scorn of Mrs. Ganush. After attacking her in the bank and being escorted out, she later attacks Christine in the parking garage, resulting in an all-out battle between the two that ends in the curse of the Lamia being put upon Christine.

Suddenly strange things start to happen. Strange voices and winds follow Christine around and she sees Ganush everywhere. Even worse, living shadows seem to be after her. Despite Clay's skepticism, she insists on having her fortune read by psychic Rham Jas (Dileep Rao), who quickly realizes something is wrong. After a sleepless night, she returns to him and finds out what the curse is.

She attempts to make good with the old lady, only to find out that she has died. After several attempts to remove the curse, including animal sacrifice and a seance, she finally resorts to a last ditch effort - gifting the cursed object so someone else's soul is taken to hell instead of hers.

I have been a Sam Raimi fan for years, ever since the first time I saw Evil Dead 2 on cable back in the 1980s. Though I have enjoyed a few of his movies since Army of Darkness, they have suffered from one major flaw: he directed, but did not write them, nor was there any collaboration with his brothers. Yes, most of his movies have lots of cheese, but they have always been inventive, entertaining and unique. A Simple Plan and the first two Spiderman movies were pretty damn good, but were missing the certain something he brought to it, and even a lot of the energy in the direction was gone. Spiderman 3 was the first one he had written and directed in a long time, and that was enough to make one think the magic was gone.

Drag Me to Hell is the first movie in a long, long time that has that special Raimi touch. No, there are no steady-cam shots like in the Evil Dead films, but there are still inventive camera angles, great fades between scenes, outright cheesy dialogue and overacting. Also, despite the theater version being rated PG-13, there is still plenty of gore, even if a couple of the CG effects don't work too well.

In this time where many of the horror films are bland, unwatchable remakes or Americanized versions of much-better Asian and European films, it is refreshing to see one of the cornerstones of American horror films is back on his A-game. And he even managed to work in the Oldsmobile.

Drag Me to Hell (2009)
Duration: 99 minutes
Starring: Alison Lohman, Justin Long, Lorna Raver, Dileep Rao
Director: Sam Raimi

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