Drag Me to Hell (2009) Movie Review
Written By: JEH
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Sam Raimi
Producers: Robert Tapert, Grant Curtis
Writers: Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi
Date Released: May 29, 2009
Alison Lohman as Christine Brown
Justin Long as Professor Clayton “Clay” Dalton
Lorna Raver as Mrs. Sylvia Ganush
Dileep Rao as Rham Jas
David Paymer as Mr. Jim Jacks
Adriana Barraza as Shaun San Dena
Reggie Lee as Stu Rubin
Rating = 3.5/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
Christine Brown (Alison Lohman), a loan officer at a bank, has her eyes on the assistant manager position. In an attempt to impress the manager and to beat her competition, she decides to toughen up and rejected the loan extension of an elderly lady, Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver). Unfortunately for Christine, she offended the wrong person. She receives a supernatural curse that will drag her to hell in three days. With the help of a seer, Rham Jas (Dileep Rao), and her boyfriend, Clay (Justin Long), she tries to escape her terrible fate.
When it comes to Sam Raimi horror films, you can expect over the top special effects. Just like The Evil Dead (1981), Drag Me to Hell (2009) did not shy away from extremely detailed and sometimes silly SFX. Viewers will see eyeballs popping out, nosebleeds going wild, and a lot of vomiting. While these might sound extreme, the movie comically presents these effects. However, some scenes that include vomiting and toothless nibbling might make some viewers uncomfortable, especially those with sensitive stomachs. Make sure you’re not eating when watching this movie.
The Grave Review
Drag Me to Hell (2009) is Sam Raimi’s return to horror after working on movies that stray from the genre, including the Spiderman trilogy. He was well-known for his Evil Dead series, which has become a horror classic. Years after his horror success, can Raimi still create a horror masterpiece?
The plot of the movie is easy to follow. Christine Brown rejects the loan extension of Mrs. Ganush to prove that she’s worthy of the long-awaited promotion. Then, Mrs. Ganush curses her, calling for the help of a demon named Lamia to drag Christine to hell. Desperate, Christine asks for the help of a seer despite her boyfriend’s disapproval.
Simple, right? Then what makes this movie so special? Sam Raimi, together with his brother Ivan Raimi, knew how to write believable characters.
How they present Christine as a character keeps the viewers guessing. Did she deserve to receive such a damning curse? Should we root for her? Her decisions are not the best, but Raimi made them understandable. Growing up as a fat kid in a dysfunctional household, Christine wants to change for the better and prove her strength. She is kind and sensitive, but her ambition pushes her to do things that she usually would not do.
The supporting characters are not just there for decoration. They add depth to the story. Rham Jas, the seer, helps Christine and the viewers understand the upcoming demise. His presence is meant to give a certain comfort by understanding the unknown. But as the movie progresses, the distress and desperation also eats him up. This is a small unappreciated part of the movie, for it shows how that the danger is real.
It is also satisfying to watch Shaun San Dena come face-to-face again with the Lamia. Decades ago, she watched a young boy being dragged to hell. All her life, she waited for the chance to defeat the ancient curse.
Clay, Christine’s boyfriend, also adds another aspect to the story. As a professional psychologist, he thinks that the curse isn’t real and PTSD is what’s haunting her. Despite this, he still supports Christine, even paying $10,000 to the people whom he believes are frauds.
It’s no surprise that the movie has comical and cheesy moments. After all, this is the work of Raimi. However, you will take this movie seriously because of the wonderful score created by Christopher Young. The music composition makes every step of Christine’s life feel unsafe. One notable scene is Christine’s encounter with the apparition of Mrs. Ganush. The scene is filled with absurd, silly visuals, but instead of laughing, you will feel Christine’s angry struggle. As tensions rise, the orchestral music becomes deafening and unsettling. It’s a good reminder of why the choice of sound matters in films.
The ending is one of the most satisfying conclusions in horror movies. The title doesn’t lie; she will literally be dragged to hell. It’s not the happy ending everyone wants, but it’s the happy ending that the movie deserves.
The film proves that Raimi creates effective horror and that he didn’t lose his knack of it. Everything works, not a single element out of place. It might not be as iconic as his Evil Dead trilogy, but Drag Me to Hell (2009) succeeds in entertaining.
For the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives Drag Me to Hell (2009) three and a half graves out of five graves.
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