Drag Me to Hell has become one of my favorite guilty pleasure movies. It’s gotten to the point where if I find it on tv, I cannot turn it off. The first time I saw it, I wasn’t sure if it would be a truly scary film that would give me nightmares or a campy modern eye-roller. Happily, it lies in some beautiful spot in between. It’s kinda scary, gives some great jump and shock moments and gets so outrageous you won’t know whether to laugh or look away in disgusted terror. When I first borrowed this from Netflix, I held onto it for a whole week, just to show it to my when they visited. Their reactions to the film were well worth it.
Christine Brown (Allison Lohman) is a normal young woman with her life going in all the right directions. She has a supportive boyfriend, Clay (Justin Long), a good job at the bank and she’s in the middle of competing for a promotion. When an elderly gypsy woman, Mrs Ganush (Lorna Raver) asks for another extension on her loan, Christine makes the tough decision to decline her. The woman then causes a scene and later attacks Christine in her car, where she curses her. Never cross a creepy old gypsy woman. Soon Christine is plagued with nightmarish visions and shadows that seem to follow her. Could the curse be real, or just superstition growing in Christine’s mind?
The old gypsy woman, complete with gooey false teeth and a dead eye, is wonderful fuel for ghoulish nightmares. Not only is she creepy, but can attack viciously. Her gross gummy mouth ends up on Christine in ways that you cannot believe, and usually won’t. But that’s not the point, it is meant to gross you out, make you cringe and look away in horrified disbelief. Or outrageous laughter. God, I love it when she vomits maggots on Christine.
Honestly, I love the outrageously gross moments and not always because I find them quite funny (at least after the initial viewing). I think it’s a great use of horror that can balance surprisingly well between supernatural activity and blood chilling violence. Best of all, there is a good amount of psychological horror also present in the film. For a while, there’s the possibility that these events are only in Christine’s mind, the mystery grows and pulls us in well. Small moments that may or may not be connected add so well to the feelings of uncertainty growing within Christine, and we feed off of them as well.
I won’t say Drag Me To Hell is Oscar worthy, it knows it’s not that kind of movie. It’s a good horror story that isn’t afraid to get a little ridiculous. Sam Raimi had fun making this film, and he knew exactly what he was creating. It’s entertaining, pulls us in and lets us lose ourselves, kinda like going to a local haunted house. It’s fun, some people may find it really scary, others might just laugh at the horror. And either reaction is perfectly fine, as long as you’re having fun.
“I desire the soul of Christine Brown. We will feast upon it while she festers in the grave!”