Horror review: Drag Me to Hell



How many times in one movie can an audience be scared shitless by a sudden close-up of a screeching, zombielike hag’s face? In the case of Sam Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell, every damn time! Raimi mastered the art of the screeching, zombie hag in The Evil Dead, and 28 years and three Spider-Mans later, he’s still got it.

The rampaging hellion this time is a revolting old gypsy with a dead eye (Lorna Raver), who shows up at an L.A. bank seeking a reprieve on her overdue house payment. Her case is handled by pert young loan officer Christine (Alison Lohman), who asks her weaselly boss (weasel-king David Paymer) if they can take pity on the ancient battle-axe. He leaves the decision up to her, but makes it clear that the vacant assistant manager’s position she yearns for is best suited to those who value lender over borrower.

When the gypsy witch-bitch gets turned down for her third mortgage extension, she goes on the offensive, attacking Christine in her car in a hilarious slapstick scuffle that Bruce Campbell would die—or at least get seriously mangled—for. The manic scrap ends with Christine being cursed to hell, and the rest of the film has her being stalked and assaulted by a demonic apparition, suffering twisted dreams and visions, and desperately seeking help from her supportive yet skeptical boyfriend (Mac shill Justin Long) and the psychic they hire to banish the curse (Dileep Rao).

As he did with the Evil Dead films, Raimi goes way over the top with the sick stuff, whether his screeching, zombielike hag is regurgitating a dead cat whole or spewing a torrent of maggots into Christine’s face. But he knows exactly when to administer the shocks, and that precise timing is what makes Drag Me to Hell such a wildly effective exercise in schlocky thrills.

It’s easily the best horror flick I’ve seen all year.

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