Isn’t the fact that gypsies smell like cabbage and bring down the value of your house if they move into your neighborhood enough of a reason to hate them? Apparently not — Sam Raimi has given us another reason to dislike them: They’ll cast a hex on you if you shame them. Poor Christine Brown (Alison Lohman). In Drag Me to Hell, she pisses off one mean old gypsie hag and the consequences for her actions are quite dire.
Returning to his roots as a campy horror director (Evil Dead trilogy), Raimi has put together a mostly unintentionally funny, a mildly frightening and an altogether completely predictable movie as he rolls out the cause and effect of Christine’s supernatural predicament.
Up for a promotion as an assistant manager at a local bank at which she’s a loan officer, Christine is told, in no uncertain terms, that if she wants the job she’ll have to make some tough choices. And wouldn’t you know it, a tough choice in the form of an old lady strolls into her cubicle immediately thereafter. Pleading to no avail for an extension on her loan, a horrid (and I’m guessing foul smelling) Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver) decides to even the score in her own special way.
And in that special way, Raimi doles out some of his trademarked dark and campy humor. The prolonged and cramped fight between the ladies is interspersed with cheesey one-liners and is damned near impossible to laugh at. Christine, however, isn’t laughing as it culminates with her having a curse thrown upon her. A curse, that calls for a demon to come and, you guessed it — drag her to Hell.
For the next three days, before she is sucked into Hades, Christine seeks guidance from her boyfriend, Clay (Justin Long), ultimately settling on the advice of a psychic, Rham Jas (Dileep Rao). All the while the hauntings, as a result of the curse, increase in intensity. Some are rather comical — an attack handkerchief — and some like misshapen shadows accompanied with those kinds of noises you’d hate to hear in the dark are just plain unnerving. These (and others) are all strung together to piece together the simple as pie story (that has a twist you can see from eight miles away) with weaker than expected performances by the cast.
Alison Lohman’s character is supposed to be cheered for, I think, but she is cold and calculating and deserves the hell she is being put through. On top of that, aside from a lot of shrieking, Lohman didn’t exactly ooze horror at the prospect of having her soul torn from her. Clay was a bit too laid back and understanding over the whole situation (especially since he was a psychology professor who lived for debunking this stuff) and for me I wished he’d get sucked away instead of his girlfriend. Justin Long in the role was a bit of stretch too — he looks like he’s 13 and hardly the strong support pillar you’d think to see in a movie like this. The star of Drag Me to Hell is that damned haggard gypsie woman. She’s way over the top in her meanness and yet, whether meant or not, side splittingly funny at the same time. Alive or dead, this woman is a force to be reckoned with.
Even with these shortcomings, Drag Me to Hell puts up a pretty good showing — so long as you know what to expect. If you’re looking for something to scare the bejesus out of you, this isn’t it. If, however, you just want to be entertained with light horror fluff, look no further.