Drag Me To Hell (2009)

Hell hath no fury…

For horror fans, there’s a lot riding on Drag Me To Hell. Not only is it the latest addition to a genre that’s become overpopulated with torture porn, weak teen shockers and remakes, but it also marks the return of director Sam Raimi to the cinematic stable that made his name. Was it too much to ask that Raimi not only live up to his Evil Dead standards but also breathe new life into the American horror? Apparently not, as Drag Me To Hell is not only one of Raimi’s best, but it’s also the most inventive, thrilling and downright enjoyable scary movie to come out of Hollywood for quite some time.

Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) looks every inch the heroine; blonde-haired, blue-eyed and beautiful, she is a vegetarian animal lover who wouldn’t hurt a fly. While attempting to impress her boss at the bank where she is up for a promotion, however, Christine inadvertently crosses strange old hag Mrs Ganush (Lorna Raver) and falls foul of the foul woman’s ancient Gypsy curse. Beginning to suffer from strange visions, Christine comes to realise that she only has three days to save her soul. But can she find a way to break the curse – with the help of her sceptical boyfriend Clay (a solid Justin Long) – before she is quite literally dragged to hell.

After years spent wandering the blockbuster wilderness, helming the behemoth Spiderman franchie, Raimi returns home to prove that he is still the master of the small-scale, schlocky horror. Bold, brash and brilliant, Drag Me to Hell combines the Raimi trademarks of gross-out effects, dark comedy and truly terrifying suspense that will leave you alternately roaring with laughter and gripping the edge of your seat.

Lohman does Raimi’s excellent screenplay (which he wrote with his brother Ivan) proud in the pivotal role of Christine. Her ultra-believable journey from put-upon loan officer to tormented soul to – as demonstrated in one memorable graveyard sequence – kick-ass warrior against unstoppable evil drives the narrative, supporting the eye-popping (literally) effects with a strong story about one woman’s desperate fight for redemption.

But the film is not intended as a morality play about good versus evil, nor a timely allegory about the dangerous repercussions of over-grasping banks, even though it touches on both of those themes. Rather it’s a rip-roaring rollercoaster of a modern frightener and classic Raimi, a B-movie homage replete with zooming cameras, prosthetic delights, stalking shadows and squelching body shocks. In short, Drag Me To Hell is pure horror heaven.

5 stars

Stars Alison Lohman, Justin Long, Lorna Raver
Director Sam Raimi
Screenplay Sam Raimi & Ivan Raimi
Certificate 15
Distributor 1hr 39min
Running Time Lions Gate
Opens May 27