By Sandra Kraisirideja
“Drag Me to Hell” is an exemplary example of Sam Raimi’s unique brand of horror movie, which is to say the audience spent more time laughing than screaming and that’s a good thing.
Raimi is best known to horror fans as the mastermind behind “The Evil Dead” series, which has a lot in common with “Drag Me to Hell.” The key elements to a Raimi horror are purposefully low-end special effects, gory deaths, and gags that are more likely to send viewers into fits of laughter rather than cries of terror.
In “Drag Me to Hell,” an evil spirit known as Lamia terrorizes a young loan officer, Christine Brown (Alison Lohman), after she refuses to help a creepy gypsy woman save her home from foreclosure. Justin Long stars as Lohman’s boyfriend, a professor of psychology who has a hard time believing that dark forces are after his girlfriend.
Supporting players include Dileep Rao as a medium who first tells Christine she is cursed; a delightfully horrible Lorna Raver as the gypsy woman; and Adrianna Barraza as a highly skilled medium who may be Christine’s only hope of defeating the Lamia.
What makes this movie especially fun is its commitment to creating new ways of surprising the audience. Raimi’s methods were more often done for humor rather than fear. It’s a great mixture because when you’re scare it’s nice to be able to laugh and release that energy. Nobody mixes that combination of laughter and terror together better than Raimi.
There is only one scene where the movie loses its momentum, the obligatory séance where the Lamia is summoned so Christine can implore him to not take her soul to hell. Here the mood becomes campy and the scene doesn’t fit with the rest of the movie. However, the pace picks up again quickly and the scene is a minor infraction given the sheer enjoyment provided by the remainder of the movie.
“Drag Me to Hell” was co-written by Ivan Raimi, Sam’s older brother, who also collaborated with him on “Spider-Man 3” and “Army of Darkness.” There’s some gross-out humor in the movie that could have only been generated by writing partners trying to outdo each other. The Raimi’s have an 11-year-old boy sensibility when it comes to horror, and there are definitely scenes that are just plain wrong, but it’s all basically harmless.
Rated PG-13, “Drag Me to Hell” would be fine for 11-year-olds to watch, especially if they are fans of monster movies that throw in a good jolt now and then to keep them on their toes.