Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Who in the heck do you have to sleep with to get an R-rating around here nowadays? If I remember correctly the PG-13 rating was created way back in 1984 because Gremlins was too violent and almost got an R because it blew up one of those cute fuzzies in a microwave and put another in a blender, stuff which got parents of the time all in a tizzy. Twenty five years later we have Royal Oak Michigan homeboy Sam Raimi back to doing what he used to do with ‘Drag me to Hell’ and apparently eating maggots, jamming one’s fist down another’s throat, gushing nose blood, suggestive kitty slaughter, a woman in a wet shirt on what must’ve been a very cold day on set and whole bunch of other stuff just isn’t enough to raise the dander of the MPAA anymore. I think nudity will still get you branded with an R because Lord knows how socially subversive a wayward titty can be, but getting dragged to the fiery depths of hell by Beelzebub himself with your eyeballs popping out? No problem baby. Grab the kids honey we’re going to the show!

Meet Christine Brown (Alison Lohman), a hard working upwardly mobile girl from the countryside who has gone from teller to loan officer, and has her eyes on the plum position of Assistant Bank Manager. Sweet. There are two things standing in her way of getting this plum position with one being her boss Mr. Jacks (David Paymer) thinking she might be a little too soft to make the ‘Hard Decisions’, and her back stabbing co-worker Stu (Reggie Lee) also vying for the position. Then one fateful day Miss Ganush (Lorna Raver) walks in crying the blues about her home being in foreclosure and requesting yet another extension. Now Christine could’ve granted her one but to prove to her boss she can make the hard decisions it is foreclosure time.  Well I’ll have you know there’s freaking out, and then there’s freaking out Miss Ganush Style because she seriously loses it. For an eighty year old woman with no teeth, the world’s thickest saliva and a glassy eye, she is one tough old girl. Not quite tough enough to take Christine out, but damn if she didn’t give it her best shot. Oh well, she’ll just have to settle with cursing her rotten soul to hell.

Now things start getting real weird for poor Christine as the curse is on in full force. Her well heeled upper class boyfriend Clay (Justin Long) has gotten his doctorate degree debunking such nonsense, but he humors the girl because he loves the girl and there is no denying that something is certainly wrong with the girl. After a couple of days of getting beat up, tossed around, abused and assaulted by, among other things, a demonic shadow and a possessed handkerchief, Christine realizes that this simply will not do. Now it’s time to bring in the ringers, hold a couple of séances and banish us some evil spirit ass. At least in theory. And if the theory proves false we’ve already seen what happens to the damned. Good luck with that Christine.

This here movie was produced by Sam Raimi’s own Ghost House Pictures which has been producing horror content for the DVD market for a few years, films of which I’ve viewed quite a few of and truth be told of the majority of the ones I’ve seen, they have been absolutely terrible. I kid you not. I assume this simple fact was not lost on the Raimi Brothers Sam and Ivan who have decided to show their underlings exactly how this thing is supposed to be done. Of course before Mr. Raimi went all A-List on us crafting movies such as ‘Spiderman 3’ with quarter billion dollar budgets (seriously) he used to make beer budget, humor filled, fun, somewhat irreverent horror flicks such as the ‘Evil Dead’ series and my personal Raimi favorite ‘Darkman’, with ‘Drag me to Hell’ representing a triumphant return to that long abandoned level of cinematic ridiculousness. This is a movie is filled with over the top gross out moments, humor that confused the packed house at the screening I was at, with half laughing at some parts while the other half was screaming, a soundtrack that was turned all the way up to eleven and enough blatantly staged jump scares to fill three low budget movies.

Now if you happen to be a HARDCORE horror guru ‘Drag me to Hell’ might not sit all that well with you as it did get kind of silly at times as I detected a classic Looney Toons ACME moment, in addition to a lot of humorous bits sewn into the narrative, but I think the majority of us realize that was done largely by design and not through accidental means since this is what Sam Raimi used to do, at least until things got all serious with ‘A Simple Plan’.

The cast was well chosen and effective with pretty Alison Lohman guiding us through the horror with a look of pained determination and confusion, and Justin Long doing that Mac Dude Justin Long thing that he’s honed to near perfection. The movie is paced quite well, seeming to be much shorter than its 100 minute running time would belie and there aren’t a heckuva lot of busy or distracting special effects since I’m guessing this movie had a budget slightly less than the funds allotted for ‘Spiderman 3’.

The bottom line, at least for me, is that ‘Drag me to Hell’ is a disgusting, fun, somewhat wacky, oft times over-the-top good time at the movies and arguably the hardest PG-13 rated movie to date. Take your mother-in-law. Take the grandparents.

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