MOVIE: Drag Me to Hell (2009)

I had cleverly avoided reading anything about this movie before going to see it.  Which, trust me, was no mean feat.  But I worked hard at it, and I succeeded.  You can do anything you want if you want to hard enough, after all.   My Daddy taught me that.   And what I wanted was to go into this movie without knowing a single thing about its plot.  Why?  Because in my experience, scary movies are far more likely to actually scare me if I have no idea whatsoever what I’m getting myself into.  Thought I’d give this movie the best possible shot at it and see what happened.

Now that I’ve seen it, of course, I can see that all that avoiding was a bit of a wasted effort.   Know why?  Because this is not a scary movie!  This horror flick is, in a word — two, actually — absolutely hilarious.  It’s campy, it’s outrageously disgusting, it’s completely ridiculous, it’s everything about Evil Dead that made us all fall madly in love with director Sam Raimi in the first place. The man loves cheesy horror and, what’s more, it appears to love him RIGHT BACK.

Drag Me to Hell is about a young woman named Christine (played by Alison Lohman) who works as a loan officer at a bank.  She spends most of her work time desperately trying to impress her wanker of a boss so that he’ll promote her to assistant manager, and most of her free time trying to make herself feel more worthy of her rich, upper-class boyfriend (played by Justin Long).  In short, Christine is under a wee bit of stress.

So, when an elderly gypsy woman comes into the bank one morning to beg for a third extension on her mortgage, Christine takes the request to her wanker of a boss and quickly picks up on his signals.  He essentially dares her to give the old lady the shaft — to let the bank take her house and throw her out on the street.  And because Christine so wants that assistant manager position, for both professional and personal reasons, she goes for it.  She denies the old lady’s request and stands firm on that position even as the old lady gets down on her knees and begs.  Eventually the old woman goes ballistic and has to be dragged away by security.  And that’s when Christine’s boss comes out and says the very words she had been so desperate to hear for so long:  “You’re first in line for that promotion now.”

Later that evening,  Christine is walking to her car in the parking garage when she’s accosted by the old woman.  And by “accosted,” I do not mean “yelled at.”  No sir, the two have a dramatically choreographed and completely ridiculous all-out brawl, which eventually ends with Christine slamming a stapler into the old lady’s face, and the old lady responding by opening up a can of Evil-Gypsy-Curse on her ass.

The next day, Christine begins to experience what at first seems like PTSD: hallucinations, sudden waves of panic or terror, the sensation that something bad is hanging around.  But it soon becomes clear that this is not post-traumatic shock — that Evil Gypsy Curse is for realz, and it’s a doozy.  The end of this movie, which I assume everybody else will also see coming from a mile away, is perfectly, delightfully hokey.  And absolutely, in every way, utterly awesome.

Incidentally, there were several parts of this flick that reminded me a little bit of The Manitou (1978), another campy, disgusting, and ridiculous movie that I adore.  But I think blogger Sarah Fobes summed Drag Me to Hell up best when she said, “Mr. Raimi, you’ve put the class back into movies about projectile-vomiting gypsy psychos with bursting eyeballs. . .”

Hells yes.

[Prequeue at Netflix | View trailer]

Genre: Horror
Cast: Alison Lohman, Justin Long, David Palmer, Dileep Rao


9 Responses to “MOVIE: Drag Me to Hell (2009)”

  1. Liz Says:

    Okay, okay, this one is going in my Netflix queue too! Also – Justin Long – wasn’t he the brother in “Jeepers Creepers,” and the Mac Computer Guy?

  2. megwood Says:

    That’s him, Liz! He was also in the latest Die Hard. He’s actually not that great in this movie, but he doesn’t really have much to do so it’s hard to hold it against him. He just has to look supportive and confused and worried, and he does fine at it. Also, he has an utterly adorable facial scar that I never noticed before.

    Liz, I wish you lived here so we could go see it together! I went by myself and it’s always SO much more fun with a fellow horror geek!!

  3. pocha Says:

    Great review. I so want to see this movie — because I love Raimi. Thought you might like this (and her blog in general). She’s a splendid movie reviewer (as are you):

  4. megwood Says:

    Great site!! Plunking that one in my RSS Reader ASAP! Thanks, pocha!

  5. Trip Says:

    Just finished this one, and it was completely insane. Funniest horror flick I’ve seen in years – if it were any campier, it would crap tent pegs.

    This movie had serious cojones, using a 7-year-old kid, a kitten, and copious amounts of various vomited…things…like that. Loved it!

    Of course you saw that ending coming a mile away, but I bet you didn’t see a a gallon of embalming fluid coming like that, now didja?

    Raimi is the MAN. Both of them.

  6. megwood Says:

    The fight with the old lady in the parking garage remains my favorite duke-out of all time.

    The “crap tent pegs” analogy is masterful, good sir.

  7. Trip Says:

    Truly, there can be no doubt: Best Use of a Stapler in a Motion Picture. That was just a big steaming bowl of WIN.

  8. TC Says:

    I hated this movie and its made me a pariah among my horror geek friends.

    Turning the volume up to eleven and forcing our CNS to respond to the noise isn’t great filmaking, its cheating. I could get the same reaction by shooting a gun off next to you.

    I’m glad someone else picked up the Manitou influence.

  9. test Says:

    Yes! Finally something about birth.

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