I don’t consider myself to be a huge horror movie fan, but I like getting creeped-out as much as anyone. In addition to reading a great review for the movie from my favorite critic, I also heard from family members that Drag Me to Hell was genuinely scary and had the bonus of being funny. So I’d been excited to see it for some time.
It was made by the Raimi brothers, who were also responsible for Army of Darkness and the Evil Dead movies, both well-known for being over-the-top, funny “horror” movies– if you could even call them that. Sam Raimi directed, and is perhaps better known now as the director of the Spiderman movies, all of which I think are mediocre.
Given that background, there’s as much to laugh at in Drag Me to Hell as there are things to get scared about. But what I really consider special about the movie is it’s opening. Paced perfectly, it sets up the scares and laughs through the vehicle of a morality tale. This might sound lamer than it is, but it’s rather impressive how universal the Raimi brothers make the heroine’s initial fall from grace seem. We all feel like we could be equally cursed for our own past trangressions.
If you are feeling lost, this is what happens: a woman works in a bank, sees her life going nowhere, and decides that to get a promotion she needs to immediately show her boss that she can be a tight-ass for the bank. Unfortunate for her, she must prove her mettle by denying an old woman further loan assistance on her mortgage, even after the woman gets down on her knees and begs for the loan. Without the loan she says she will lose her home. Our banking heroine denies the loan extension anyway, and the old woman angrily places a curse of death upon her. The curse allows a demon spirit to torment the film’s heroine for three days and then potentially kill her.
All of this happens in the first 15-20 minutes or so of the movie, and is executed masterfully. For this reason I guess the rest of the movie was somewhat of a letdown. Our heroine must try to rather inevitably get rid of the curse as the demon progressively does more and more scary stuff. Sure, there were some great scenes and funny moments, but ultimately I felt like the film never lived up to its promise.
So what were the Raimi brothers trying to say about our personal choices when we choose selfishness over compassion for others? That we are all damned to hell? It’s an intriguing philosophical question, and if anything the movie should make you think about it.
You can watch the preview for Drag Me to Hell by clicking here.