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Overall Rating

Awesome: 23.26%
Worth A Look: 23.26%
Pretty Bad: 15.12%
Total Crap: 8.14%

7 reviews, 44 user ratings

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Drag Me to Hell
[] Buy posters from this movie
by David Cornelius

"30 minutes of great splatstick spread out over a 99 minute movie."
3 stars

“Drag Me to Hell” is a loud movie. Achingly, screechingly, deafeningly loud. But Sam Raimi, who gave us “The Evil Dead” and “Darkman” and “The Quick and the Dead” before going legit with quiet dramas and popcorn blockbusters, oh, he knows how to do crazy loud.

The secret’s all in the jump-scares. You know jump-scares. They’re when a quick something bursts onto the frame, accompanied by the jolt of a dramatic music sting. Some are serious - the killer popping up out of nowhere - and some are jokey red herrings - the “it’s only a cat” phenomenon. Either way, they’re often used as a crutch by lesser filmmakers who don’t know how to properly handle suspense, so they just throw out a bunch of jump-scares to rattle us to attention.

But not Sam Raimi. The director knows all about how horror and comedy can work together, and so he plasters his new movie - his first pure horror effort since 1993’s “Army of Darkness” - with jump-scares that work on their own terms, not as a cheat, but as a grabber. This is spookhouse stuff here, where it’s all about the jump-scare and the gross-out. If Raimi had a rubber skeleton he could launch into the audience, he probably would.

The whole thing - in which an old gypsy woman (Lorna Raver) dumps a nasty curse on young Christine (Alison Lohman), leaving her to deal with the maniacal goat-devil who wants her soul - has a sly E.C. Comics vibe to it, loaded with sick humor, grotesque imagery, and some rather nasty twists; you can almost hear the Cryptkeeper cackling away in the corner. (In fact, a handful of digital effects are the only non-retro thing about this film, which centers on old fashioned occult doings for its plot; even the opening Universal logo is old school.) “Drag Me to Hell” would’ve made a terrific chapter in “Creepshow,” or maybe “Tales from the Crypt.”

Ah, but there’s the problem. This is a thirty minute story stretched to feature length, leaving us with repetition and too many go-nowhere scenes. In fleshing out the script, Raimi and his co-writer, brother Ivan Raimi, give us unnecessary details. Christine used to be overweight and is tempted by sweets, a fact that goes unused as the movie progresses. She also escaped life on the farm, which causes tension with the snooty parents of her boyfriend (Justin Long); it all leads to a scene where she snaps at a dinner party, but the humorous tension would’ve worked just as well without the country girl-meets-the rich snobs elements. A subplot involving Christine’s work - she’s up for a promotion, against a sniveling brownnoser (Reggie Lee) - works somewhat better, if only because it works to lead up to a sinister punchline that never quite arrives, which is a smart (and sinister) punchline in itself.

And those are just the side details. Even the main story is padded in all the wrong places, as Christine’s psychic advisor (Dileep Rao) keeps trying new things. It’s frustrating, watching all these scenes that don’t really go anywhere but don’t cause enough frights to make them work on their own. (The noisy overkill of a late-movie séance is most frustrating of all, since it leads nowhere.) The core of the story is just enough to fill the opening and closing scenes; the entire middle act is, well, a drag.

It doesn’t help that Lohman seems unable to get to the heart of the Raimi’s intentionally campy material. She struggles to deliver too many corny lines too straight, as if she’s not in on the joke. Raver, on the other hand, is way, way, way in on the joke, allowing herself to become slimy and spiteful through and through, all for a good squeal.

And good squeals are what make “Drag Me to Hell” ultimately worth it. For all its shoddy plotting, the movie’s chock full of squeamy, squicky bits that’ll be great for a scream, especially in a packed theater. Raimi’s Three Stooges influences plays out hard here, leaving the movie a whole heap of slimy funhouse delight. Why whisper boo, when you can shout it?

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 05/29/09 16:55:40
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2009 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Festival de Cannes For more in the 2009 Festival de Cannes series, click here.

User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell good return 2 horror 4 Raimi 4 stars
10/01/14 KingNeutron Pretty well done, worth a look especially if you have a jumpy girl along :) 4 stars
10/10/11 The Big D Blatant rip-off of Stephen King's book Thinner, but it has an effective ending. 3 stars
10/12/10 Karamashi A purely entertaining horror film that doesn't take itself too seriously. 4 stars
8/10/10 Chad Dillon Cooper For those too chicken to see the Evil Dead series. 2 stars
6/01/10 User Name I can't recall the last time I had so much fun in a theater. 3 stars
11/08/09 art RATED S FOR SICK! 1 stars
10/22/09 Dave I couldn't get past how truly awful the leads were. Horrible acting/ 2 stars
10/19/09 Jenkins Yeah was fairly well bored by this effort 2 stars
9/14/09 M Horror movies the way they used to be!! 5 stars
9/05/09 Marcia Lartz Hardcore dark horror-flick ending a real downer after most of film is more comic. 3 stars
9/04/09 Pat Skerret Loved the parts where Christine does wet farts, but the rest is totally gross! 2 stars
8/31/09 Mac As fun as a gaggle of gooses, despite poor editing 4 stars
8/20/09 scotty Awesome! Able to do gross out with out buckets of gore and blood. Take note Eli Roth 5 stars
8/16/09 Flounder I'm not sure why all the naysayers. I thought this was the best horror film in ages 5 stars
7/14/09 aliceinwonderland Seen it all before but ok 3 stars
7/06/09 art IT IS SICK! 1 stars
6/23/09 Luisa Predictable but still fun...ghost scenes got repetitive 4 stars
6/20/09 ahnold It is an established director trying to make a student movie 3 stars
6/17/09 Steve Michaud Welcome back to the horror genre, Mr. Raimi! You've been missed! 4 stars
6/16/09 Sully 1.I knew hell was under L.A. 2.HA! Give that cursd button to Dick Cheney 3 stars
6/13/09 Ole Man Bourbon I was pleased. 5 stars
6/12/09 matt pretty damn awesome. great ending even though i saw it coming a mile away... 5 stars
6/11/09 Ming one of the best horror film of the year....good suspense and plot 4 stars
6/08/09 Mike the extreme! I was hoping she'd try The Curse of the White Man From Town. 2 stars
6/06/09 Devin G Drag me to hell was cliched, predictable and stupid. 1 stars
6/06/09 James unbellievably poor and predictable story, who hangs an anvil in their shed 1 stars
6/05/09 Man Out 6 Bucks Sub-prime loan officer vs. Satanic goat. Which is more evil? 4 stars
6/05/09 karamashi Just fun. Yes its not evil dead but still. 4 stars
6/04/09 malcolm not perfect but a fun-ass ride 4 stars
6/03/09 Bobby If you love groce body excrements, you'll love this movie. That's about all there was 3 stars
6/02/09 Joe Mama Love the Evil Dead series, but this was lame ass 2 stars
6/02/09 Sheri Terrible, terrible movie...and I love sam! 1 stars
6/02/09 evil goat 224 FUCK U IM A EVIL GOAT BITCH 5 stars
6/01/09 Eric Cinema's most epic nosebleed would be MODERN PROBLEMS. You should do better research. 4 stars
6/01/09 Alex Scared the pants of us all who saw it! 5 stars
6/01/09 Mike A blast, very well-directed by Raimi, built like a funhouse ride. 4 stars
6/01/09 steve owen so bad i gave the ticket seller a cursed button and begged for me 9 dollars back 1 stars
5/31/09 JM Synth Better than most recent horror fare, but I hoped for more 3 stars
5/31/09 Michelle I enjoyed it. It wasn't the best horror I've seen, but it was worth the $ I paid to see it 4 stars
5/31/09 freddy krueger awesome movie. very suspenseful, very fun. highly recommended 5 stars
5/31/09 Anne Better if centered on killing evil, curse wielding gypsies 1 stars
5/30/09 DK Qaulity entertainment 4 stars
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  29-May-2009 (PG-13)
  DVD: 13-Oct-2009


  DVD: 13-Oct-2009

[trailer] Trailer

Directed by
  Sam Raimi

Written by
  Sam Raimi
  Ivan Raimi

  Alison Lohman
  Justin Long
  Lorna Raver
  Jessica Lucas
  David Paymer
  Dileep Rao
  Reggie Lee

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