A loan officer who evicts an old woman from her home finds herself the recipient of a supernatural curse. Desperate, she turns to a seer to try and save her soul, while evil forces work to push her to a breaking point.
Five interwoven stories that occur on Halloween: An everyday high school principal has a secret life as a serial killer; a college virgin might have just met the guy for her; a group of teenagers pull a mean prank; a woman who loathes the night has to contend with her holiday-obsessed husband; and a mean old man meets his match with a demonic, supernatural trick-or-treater.
Christine Brown is a loans officer at a bank but is worried about her lot in life. She's in competition with a competent colleague for an assistant manager position and isn't too sure about her status with a boyfriend. Worried that her boss will think less of her if she shows weakness, she refuses a time extension on a loan to an old woman, Mrs. Ganush, who now faces foreclosure and the loss of her house. In retaliation, the old woman place a curse on her which, she subsequently learns, will result in her being taken to hell in a few days time. With the help of a psychic, she tries to rid herself of the demon, but faces several hurdles in the attempt. Written by
Dragged to Hell: Another Experiment in Grueling Terror
To properly (and fairly) access my experience with seeing "Drag Me To Hell" Sam Raimi's (The Gift, Spider Man) much anticipated and blogged about new opus, we must first take a little trip back in time to the year 1995. As a kid, I had always been intrigued by the horror genre, most of which likely spawned from my parent's extreme hatred towards it. While they perused the Comedy and Drama sections of our old video store (then stocked to the brim with VHS tapes, I might add) I found myself sneaking off to the far left corner among the gory, trashy, at often times downright pornographic cover art that adorned the paper sleeves for films such as "Invasion of the Blood Farmers" and "Deadtime Stories".
Like a college freshman introduced to mass quantities of alcohol for the first time with no guidance in sight, I was on overload. What were they attempting to keep me from? If I slid this threw the door of my old Sony T-120, what exactly would I be getting myself into? One would like to think I found the answer that day instead of being forced to watch "The Jerk" for the ten thousandth time, but alas, my first experience with the "terror" genre began that same year, late at night, in the comforts of my own bed, with a remote control, a freshly fluffed pillow and the Sci-Fi Channel.
The words flashed onto the screen, "The Evil Dead" in blood red, bold faced lettering. As I watch the plot unfold I found myself paralyzed by the images I was seeing. Humans being possessed by demons, dismembered by their own friends, maniacally laughing in a distorted, demented all together frightening way and above all jumping out at me when I least expected it. I was changed. My outlook on movies changed. My fear of the dark was created and that was WITH commercial breaks. Of course, I have only one man to thank for getting me hooked on the "Terror" genre and that is Sam Raimi.
After almost twenty years (since "Army of Darkness" the final installment of the Evil Dead franchise) Mr. Raimi returns to his old stomping grounds with "Drag Me to Hell", the tale of Christine (Allison Lohman, Matchstick Men) a loan officer whom forces Mrs. Ganush, a sick, decrepit gypsy woman from her home by denying her an extension on an already delinquent bank loan. As fate would have it, after work in a desolate parking garage, Christine is attacked and the curse of the Lamia is placed onto her. In the days to follow she is brutally attacked by unseen entities, experiences visions of a deformed Mrs. Ganush and attempts to reverse the curse by contacting psychic mediums. Time is of the essence, but taking the curse off proves to be much more difficult than it was to put on as we witness Christine attempt to silence it before she is dragged to hell.
Earlier on, I referred to my obsession with the "Terror" genre. Terror differs from Horror in that its goal is to completely terrify the audience as opposed to simply scaring them. "Drag Me to Hell" falls into one such category. From start to finish, you make the first plunge down the drop of a 100 minute roller coaster and in the end feel as if you've been tossed around and abused by a master manipulator, Raimi. It is evident, through the use and placement of scares, gore, mixture of comedy and horror as well as pacing of the plot that Raimi didn't have to do much dusting off to get back in the game. He clearly knows that, in this genre, simplicity is often times the best course of action. The storyline and its unraveling is basic, often times boarding on naivety, but the absolute madness that ensues within its walls is comparable to a warm piece of chocolate cake.
Allison Lohman (who replaced Ellen Page in early stages of development) does a fine job of portraying Christine and the character arc that she goes through. Page would have brought a bit more grittiness to the role, but that's beside the point. Lohman is able to bring the charm and diversity to the part. Justin Long as Clay, Christines boyfriend, delivers as always and manages to keep it real in a role that could have very easily turned corny had it not been handled correctly. Supporting cast, Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver) and Rham Jas (Dileep Rao) the Medium are both convincing in their extremely demanding parts.
What's so special about "Drag Me to Hell" is that it knows its roots. It takes us back to the days when it was a true "experience" to see a horror/terror movie. When you went into a movie theater and the audience jumped, yelled at the screen and quivered in shock and disgust. At the conclusion it brought them to their feet with a standing ovation and all along with the mindset of, "Okay, we're all in this together, let's make it out in one piece." "Drag Me to Hell" is what a good experience at the movies is all about. There will be those who hate it, loath it even, but for the handful of us that were transformed into obsessed fans of this niche market by a master director, it will validate our love for the genre and will forever stand as a true testament of the best it has to offer. As for myself, for a short moment in time I was a thirteen again, curled up under my covers, frozen with fear, and loving every single minute of it.
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