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Overall Rating

Awesome: 23.26%
Worth A Look: 23.26%
Just Average30.23%
Pretty Crappy: 15.12%
Sucks: 8.14%

7 reviews, 44 user ratings

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Drag Me to Hell
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by Mel Valentin

"Don't, don't believe (the horror fanboy) hype."
3 stars

"Drag Me to Hell," Sam Raimi’s ("Spider-Man" trilogy, "Evil Dead" trilogy, "The Gift," "A Simple Plan," "Darkman," "Crimewave") surprising return to the horror genre after 22 years (or 16 if you count "Army of Darkness," isn’t so much a “return to form” as much as it’s a filmmaker who long ago graduated to summer blockbusters, recycling and self-cannibalizing visual tricks and narrative twists he perfected two decades ago, to rapidly diminishing visceral or emotional effect effect. Ultimately, "Drag Me to Hell" is both a disappointment for the talent involved in front of and behind the camera and for a squandered premise that involves a supernatural curse with a deadline before a goat-demon (or goat-god) drags the heroine down into the bowels of hell, where he’ll presumably torture her in inventive ways for eternity, not because he should, but because he can (he’s a goat-demon after all).

A clunky prologue establishes the ground rules: piss off a gypsy woman (or man, presumably), get cursed, experience a mix of aural and visual hallucination, plus the odd object thrown around by an invisible source, and, despite the best efforts of a Mexican-American medium, get dragged to hell. In the present, Christine Brown (Alison Lohman), an ambitious bank loan officer eager to obtain a promotion, turns down the desperate pleas from an old gypsy woman, Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver), for a third extension on her mortgage. Shamed by her public humiliation, the gypsy woman angrily curses Christine. After a parking lot encounter with the gypsy woman leaves Christine battered, bruised, and beaten, the goat-demon begins to harass Christine, scuttling in the shadows, sending hurricane-strength winds to attack her in broad daylight, and generally causing a nuisance for Christine.

Christine’s boyfriend, Clay Dalton (Justin Long), the obligatory skeptic (he’s a psychology professor), assumes she’s suffering from post-traumatic-stress-disorder. Christine’s impulsive visit to a new-age mystic (and fortune teller), Rham Jas (Dileep Rao), confirms her worst fears: the goat-demon will drag Christine to hell in less than three days. The only hope lies with Shaun San Dena (Adriana Barraza), another medium who, for a price, will attempt to exorcise the goat-demon from Christine’s life. If you’ve seen the Evil Dead trilogy, then you know that the best laid plans of men and mediums will go awry, in spectacular fashion. In a scene that could have easily appeared in the Evil Dead trilogy, bodies fly or are suspended in mid-air (all the better to do a Deadite gig), tossed around like rag dolls, and otherwise abused after the goat-demon refuses to go quietly into the dark, stormy night.

But where there’s a séance, there’s hope (or so Raimi and his co-writer/brother Ivan would like us to think). Drag Me to Hell disappointingly follows overly familiar horror film convolutions, including a false climax, a false ending, and the obligatory twist-filled denouement (given away in the trailer and TV ads, unfortunately). Raimi chose to play it too safe, first through a surprise-free storyline and second through Raimi’s decision (or his producers’) to release Drag Me to Hell with a “PG-13” rating, contrary to the fervent hopes and dreams of horror fans everywhere. Although Raimi pushes the gross-out gags as far as the rating will allow (and maybe past the rating’s usual limitations, including one scene involving a bloody nose and another involving a torrent of vomit-slime), he keeps his grosser instincts in check, neutering one of Drag Me to Hell’s major selling points: a filmmaker unrestrained by the multiple, often conflicting demands inherent in big-budget, blockbuster properties like the Spider-Man franchise.

On the plus side, Raimi returns to the excessive, over-emphatic visual style he developed for the "Evil Dead" trilogy. But for all of Raimi’s swirling, zooming camera moves and rapid-fire editing, he gives in to the temptation to mix CG with practical effects, often to the detriment of whatever scares Raimi’s trying to conjure up. The CG ranges from the barely noticeable (still dubious, since it’s still likely to take you out of the film) to the almost unwatchable (including the literal “dragged to hell” shots). "Drag Me to Hell’s" sloppiness extends to the uneven performances. While Lorna Raver obviously has a blast as the mad gypsy woman and Dileep Rao excels in the thankless expository role, neither Alison Lohman’s tentativeness as Christine, especially in her line deliveries, nor Justin Long’s blank inexpressiveness (a product of an underwritten role, to be fair), help "Drag Me to Hell" rise above the merely mediocre.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=18112&reviewer=402
originally posted: 05/29/09 03:25:30
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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
9/30/14 KingNeutron Pretty well done, worth a look especially if you have a jumpy girl along :) 4 stars
10/09/11 The Big D Blatant rip-off of Stephen King's book Thinner, but it has an effective ending. 3 stars
10/11/10 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
5/31/10 User Name I can't recall the last time I had so much fun in a theater. 3 stars
11/07/09 art RATED S FOR SICK! 1 stars
10/21/09 Dave I couldn't get past how truly awful the leads were. Horrible acting/ 2 stars
10/18/09 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
9/04/09 Marcia Lartz Hardcore dark horror-flick ending a real downer after most of film is more comic. 3 stars
9/03/09 Pat Skerret Loved the parts where Christine does wet farts, but the rest is totally gross! 2 stars
8/30/09 Mac As fun as a gaggle of gooses, despite poor editing 4 stars
8/19/09 scotty Awesome! Able to do gross out with out buckets of gore and blood. Take note Eli Roth 5 stars
8/15/09 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
7/05/09 art IT IS SICK! 1 stars
6/22/09 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
6/12/09 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
6/10/09 Ming one of the best horror film of the year....good suspense and plot 4 stars
6/07/09 Mike Generic...to the extreme! I was hoping she'd try The Curse of the White Man From Town. 2 stars
6/05/09 Devin G Drag me to hell was cliched, predictable and stupid. 1 stars
6/05/09 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
6/04/09 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
6/02/09 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
6/01/09 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
5/31/09 Alex Scared the pants of us all who saw it! 5 stars
5/31/09 Mike A blast, very well-directed by Raimi, built like a funhouse ride. 4 stars
5/31/09 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
5/30/09 freddy krueger awesome movie. very suspenseful, very fun. highly recommended 5 stars
5/30/09 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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