Drag Me to Hell (2009)
March 16, 2018 8:01 PM - Subscribe

A loan officer who evicts an old woman from her home finds herself the recipient of a supernatural curse. Desperate, she turns to a seer to try and save her soul, while evil forces work to push her to a breaking point.

Roger Ebert: "Drag Me to Hell" is a sometimes funny and often startling horror movie. That is what it wants to be, and that is what it is. After scaling the heights with "A Simple Plan" (1998) and slugging a home run with the "Spider-Man" franchise, it's like Sam Raimi is taking some personal time and returning to his hobby.

AV Club: Specifically, he’s recalling his own time at Universal in the early ’90s, when he brought the splatstick hokum of his Evil Dead days to the studio playground with 1990’s Darkman and 1992’s Army Of Darkness. A sort of de facto Evil Dead 4, Drag Me To Hell picks up where he left off, trafficking in lots of supernatural mumbo-jumbo (gypsy curses, psychics, ass-whomping ghosts) as an excuse for gloriously over-the-top horror-comedy. Just as Spider-Man 3 seemed to buckle under the weight of increasingly unwieldy endeavor, Raimi’s new film feels distinctly unburdened and fun, happily frolicking in its own pulp silliness.

WaPo: As in the best horror movies, "Drag Me to Hell" keeps the audience on the edge of hysteria throughout, so that every thump sets the heart racing and every joke earns a slightly out-of-control laugh. So expertly does Raimi (who also wrote the film with his brother Ivan) pull the strings on the viewer that by the end, you'll even find yourself cheering for the loan officer (Alison Lohman) who takes an old lady's house away.

Slate: Even those things in Drag Me to Hell that read as cheesy—Alison Lohman's glassy-eyed stare or Christopher Young's string-heavy, Psycho-esque score—work perfectly and seem deliberate on Raimi's part. He started off as a director of the ludicrously over-the-top Evil Dead series, whose weird alchemy of horror and humor has wielded enormous (and at times, pernicious) influence over subsequent masters of gore. Drag Me owes less to contemporary horror-film grammar ("extreme" Japanese horror, sadistic Saw-style butchery, etc.) than it does to the thrillers of the '70s and '80s. It harkens back to the kind of scary movies that seem almost innocent now with their earnest occult mumbo-jumbo (think The Exorcist) and terrified but plucky heroines (think Jamie Lee Curtis in Halloween). Drag Me's production values are far nicer than those of the Evil Dead movies, but beneath its moderately plushy exterior beats that same telltale heart.


Filming Locations

In 2009, Sam Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell Exploited Shame to Gross, Gut-Wrenching Effect

Crazy Film Theory: Drag Me To Hell Is Really About A Girl With An Eating Disorder

Alison Lohman remembers 'relentless' Drag Me to Hell shoot in exclusive Blu-ray clip

In Defense of Sam Raimi's "Drag Me to Hell"
posted by MoonOrb (9 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Oh my God... this movie was so racist. Ugh, ugh, ugh.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 9:31 PM on March 16, 2018 [7 favorites]

Yeah, super-racist, plus... just kind of dumb? Like, why curse the loan officer who was sympathetic to the old woman? Curse the boss who wouldn't let her give the loan!
posted by sarcasticah at 10:05 AM on March 17, 2018

Like, why curse the loan officer who was sympathetic to the old woman? Curse the boss who wouldn't let her give the loan!

It was the women's choice. She got pressure from the boss but she made the decision. One thing the movie did a good job at was having her be "nice" but fundamentally looking out for herself, even if it meant tossing an old woman out on the street so she could do a tiny bit better in her career. She was of course a victim throughout the movie so she engaged sympathy, but to me the brief "happy ending" before the final twist was still leaving the scales unbalanced (in horror movie logic.)

Cursing the boss would make as much sense as cursing the quants who came up with collateralized debt obligations, or the Fed or lax banking regulation. It's not about the structural problems.
posted by mark k at 2:24 PM on March 17, 2018 [6 favorites]

I loved it, Sam Raimy returns to his origins with a comedic/gory/horror movie. Surprisingly after Drag me to Hell he directed Oz the Great and Powerful, a completely different genre, which he also nails.
posted by ruben at 8:58 PM on March 17, 2018

I wish Raimi had been able to resist the lazy, racist gypsy angle, because I think there's actually a lot to love about this movie otherwise. In particular, I agree with mark k's take on the morality of the situation. Structural issues are important when deciding how to fix a societal ill, but individual decisions still carry moral weight. Christine would definitely end up in The Bad Place either way; the Lamia just gets her there a little faster. And then of course the gags are impeccable, which is to be expected in a Raimi movie.
posted by tobascodagama at 8:37 AM on March 19, 2018 [3 favorites]

I did once reconstruct it from memory using props from the film, the original locations, and Allison Lohman's screen double, so there is that.
posted by maxsparber at 4:13 PM on March 20, 2018 [2 favorites]

Also, I still have one of the prop handketchiefs from the film.
posted by maxsparber at 4:16 PM on March 20, 2018

Notable in that it does exactly what it sets out to do. Underrated, in my opinion.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 1:44 PM on March 22, 2018 [1 favorite]

This was not a good movie, but it had some fine moments of Sam Raimi weirdness. That part with the eyeball in the cake slice was like something out of The Evil Dead.
posted by riruro at 7:29 PM on March 25, 2018

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