Good, old-fashioned spookiness

Sam Raimi’s latest shocks, awes and ewwws

Drag Me to Hell
Starring Alison Lohman and Justin Long. Directed by Sam Raimi. Feather River Cinemas, Paradise Cinema 7 and Tinseltown. Rated PG-13.
Rated 4.0

Writer/director Sam Raimi has a very, shall we say, eclectic résumé. Most people know him for the Spider-Man series and the cult-classic Evil Dead films (and rumor has it a new one of the latter is in the works for 2010). While he’s taken a break from the horror genre for a while, Drag Me to Hell seems to mark a re-entry of sorts.

While silly and simple at times, Raimi’s newest venture—co-penned with his brother, Ivan—is pure cult horror. Teenagers—and pretty much anyone with a stomach for the jumps and a little slime—everywhere are screaming in delight.

In short, Drag Me to Hell is about a curse bestowed upon a young woman, a loan officer, Christine (Alison Lohman). It gives her just a few days of being haunted and tormented before literally dragging her down to hell. So, naturally, she does everything in her power—with the help of her supportive boyfriend, Clay (Josh Long)—to remove the curse.

Meanwhile, Christine is up for a promotion at work, alongside a competitive co-worker, and she must fight for the affection of Clay’s family as well. A scene with Clay’s parents, who disapprove of the relationship, is particularly memorable—the mother in pearls and a faux smile, the father along for the ride, grilling Christine on her farm-hand past. And all the while, Christine is seeing apparitions and being physically tormented at the dinner table. Oh, what fun!

Drag Me to Hell is just that—a fun little scare movie, with lots of jolts and jumps but not a whole lot in the gore category (although an old woman’s mouth seems to be the origin of at least three gross-out scenes). Thus the PG-13 rating. The great part is that while the audience was laughing and gasping, they all seemed genuinely concerned for the main character.

Lohman plays her part perfectly, going from slightly shy to having to let loose and stand up for herself, at work, but mostly against this preposterous curse. And the fact that the whole movie is one big metaphor—the action that directly precedes the curse challenged Christine’s morals—adds that little bit of depth that is so often missing in horror movies.

For any fans of horror, this is a must-see—a perfect blend of good acting, good directing, good humor and good, old-fashioned spookiness.