Drag Me To Hell (15)



Horror (2009)
98mins US

Starring: Justin Long, Alison Lohman, Fernanda Romero, Chelcie Ross, David Paymer, Reggie Lee
Director: Sam Raimi
Writer(s): Ivan Raimi, Sam Raimi
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Christine Brown works in Los Angeles as a loans officer, and is keen to impress her boss Mr Jacks and perhaps gain promotion and a hefty pay rise. So when the enigmatic Mrs Ganush comes into the bank to beg for an extension to her home loan, Christine is torn: between being compassionate and giving the old lady more time and denying her request. Christine opts for ruthless ambition and Mrs Ganush retaliates by placing a curse on the young woman and all around her, including handsome, professor boyfriend, Clay Dalton. As the evil spirit slowly drives Christine to the brink of insanity, she seeks spiritual guidance from mystical seer Rham Jas but how far is she willing to go to reclaim her old life?

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LondonNet Film Review
Drag Me To Hell

After record-breaking box-office success with Spider-Man and its sequels, director Sam Raimi returns to horror - the genre that made his name - with this tongue-in-cheek battle for a young woman's soul...

Drag Me To Hell recalls his seminal Evil Dead series with its queasy conflation of gore and dark humour, plus the re-appearance of flying eyeballs. You're more likely to cackle or recoil in disgust than scream, unless a demonically possessed handkerchief that smothers the beleaguered heroine chills to the funny bone. Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) works in Los Angeles as a loans officer and is keen to impress her boss Mr Jacks (David Paymer) and beat sycophantic co-worker Stu (Reggie Lee) to the vacant assistant manager's position. So when the enigmatic Mrs Ganush (Lorna Raver) comes into the bank to beg for a third extension to her home loan, Christine is torn: between giving the old lady more time or denying the request. Christine opts for ruthless ambition and tells Mrs Ganush that the bank cannot extend her any more credit. Mrs Ganush retaliates by attacking Christine, stealing a button from her coat and cursing it with the Lamia, a demon that will claim her soul in three days. Supported by professor boyfriend Clay (Justin Long), Christine seeks spiritual guidance from psychic Rham Jas (Dileep Rao), who suggests animal sacrifice to appease the Lamia. "I'm a vegetarian. I volunteer at the puppy shelter!" shrieks Christine. Perhaps seer Shaun San Dena (Adriana Barraza) will have the solution...

Drag Me To Hell is a hoot, opening with the old Universal Pictures logo and a suitably overblown 1960s prologue. Violence is exaggerated and cartoonish. On one occasion, when Mrs Ganush attempts to throttle Christine, the loans officer looks wildly around the room and her eyes settle on an anvil-like weight hanging, fortuitously, above the old woman's head, suspended by a nearby pulley rope. Releasing the rope, the heavy metal crashes onto Mrs Ganush's skull and the demented crone's peepers pop out of her skull across the room. A centrepiece fight in a car is equally amusing when Mrs Ganush attempts to bite chunks out of Christine's face... only to realise she has lost her dentures during the struggle. Gumming the poor girl to death simply won't work. Lohman opens her mouth beautifully to scream as the special effects team smothers her in all manner of viscous, bodily fluids. Raver is stomach-churningly repulsive while supporting cast fit snugly into their roles, all keeping perfectly straight faces amidst the hocus pocus. Raimi directs with brio and an impish grin, including a scene with a housefly settling on the camera lens, forcing a close-up of the insect casually cleaning its proboscis. In an age when horror films have become an exercise in sadism, Drag Me To Hell is a welcome throwback to more playful times. Long may it continue.

- Sam Cannon


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