“You shamed me,” Mrs. Ganush says to Christine Brown. “I begged you, and you shamed me.”
Although Sam Raimi achieved worldwide success with his Spider-Man trilogy, he would soon walk away from the franchise due to the short deadline Sony gave him to start on Spider-Man 4 (a tactic most likely designed to give them the excuse they wanted to reboot the franchise). With Raimi free from any more Spider-Man commitments, fans were hoping that he’d finally tackle the long-awaited fourth installment of the Evil Dead films that had been teased for more than a decade. Instead, Raimi followed up Spider-Man 3 with an original tale that he co-wrote with his brother Ivan prior to working on the Spider-Man films. I was lucky enough to get to see Drag Me To Hell on the big screen in its original theatrical run (by the time I was able to see it, it had already been out for a month and my options on where to go see it were very limited by this point). I enjoyed it very much, and was glad to have seen the newest Sam Raimi horror film.
2009’s Drag Me To Hell follows a young bank loan officer named Christine as she works hard to get a promotion to assistant manager at the bank. After an elderly gypsy woman, Mrs. Ganush, asks for a third extension on her mortgage, Christine declines the request in order to impress her boss. Mrs. Ganush responds by placing a curse on Christine, one in which a demon called the Lamia will torment her for three days before taking her to Hell. When Christine realizes that the curse is real, she races against time to have the curse removed before it’s too late. Raimi brings his usual visual style to the proceedings, pushing the limits of the PG-13 rating (a rating he always intended the film to have). Raimi even treats his fans to a few homages to his Evil Dead films. He assembled a terrific cast for this film: Alison Lohman, Justin Long, Lorna Raver, Dileep Rao, David Paymer, Adriana Barraza, Reggie Lee, Chelcie Ross, and Molly Cheek.
The screenplay by the Raimi brothers, which delivers plenty of both scares and laughs, features a powerful morality tale about the evil of greed. Christine is a good person who is punished for the one sin she commits (denying a mortgage extension in order to get a promotion). Peter Deming’s superb cinematography gets spooky at times, and Bob Murawski’s editing keeps the film moving at a good pace. Steve Saklad’s production design was top-notch, as was Isis Mussenden’s costume designs. Also very impressive were the special effects and the makeup design by Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger (Mrs. Ganush and the creature effects are among the highlights). Christopher Young wrote a hauntingly beautiful score that is dominated by strings and an eerie chorus. Drag Me To Hell marks Sam Raimi’s return to his horror roots (a return that delighted many of his fans, including me). It’s a lower-budgeted effort that proves he hasn’t lost his touch after several years of working on the big-budget Spider-Man films. I hope this will get him to finally get working on that fourth Evil Dead film with Bruce Campbell.