While millions more movie-goers know Sam Raimi from his three Spider-Man movies, a much smaller – better probably more dedicated – group of Raimi fans have been wondering when the heck he was going to do another horror movie! Now that Drag Me to Hell is finally in theaters, it is time to rejoice. Sam Raimi has come home!
Christine Brown [Alison Lohman] works in a bank, where she’s attempting to buck the system and gain a promotion to assistant manager – ahead of new guy Ray [Reggie Lee], who routinely butters up their boss, Mr. Jacks [David Paymer] with Lakers tickets. We know she’s a nice person – a good-hearted person – from an early sequence where she spends time with her boyfriend, and brand new professor, Clay Dalton. They’re a sweet couple, but not overly so.
When Mrs. Ganush [Lorna Raver] comes into the bank seeking a third extension on her mortgage, Christine is subtly informed by Mr. Jacks that assistant managers have to make the hard decisions – and this is a hard decision. So, Christine ignores her heart and goes for the promotion, placing the elderly woman in the position of having to beg for the first time in her life. What follows is madness…
Although Drag Me to Hell is less quirky than the Evil Dead Trilogy [not that hard to do], it has its quirks and makes them work by giving us characters we can relate to. The script, by Sam Raimi and Ivan Raimi, is brisk and concise. Sam Raimi translates it to the big screen with brio. The movie zips along at a perfect pace – quickly enough that the glimpses of Something Nasty, and the various physical gags that produce the events that drive Christine nearly to the brink, but not so quickly as to let everything run together.
Raimi pulls us into the movie by giving us characters we can relate to, in Christine and Clay, then takes our investment in the characters and twists it just a bit. Although Christine may be morally wrong to refuse Mrs. Ganush, she’s trying to do something to make her situation – and therefore clay’s as well – better.
Between the subtle CG; the mostly terrific practical effects; the sound effects and music, and several solid performances, Raimi manages something rare – a character driven horror movie. He also realizes that it’s best, sometimes, to let the audience’s imaginations run free, rather than inundating it with gore effects. It’s that movement in the corner of one’s idea that is the scariest. That’s why Drag Me to Hell is the year’s best horror movie.
Final Grade: B+