tek's rating: ½

Drag Me to Hell (PG-13/unrated)
Black List; Dread Central (Blu-ray/DVD); IMDb; Kindertrauma; Movies Anywhere; Rotten Tomatoes; Scream Factory; TV Tropes; Universal; Wikipedia

Caution: potential spoilers.

This was directed and co-written by Sam Raimi, who is much beloved among horror fans for his "Evil Dead" trilogy. (I've seen each of those movies only once, and the only one I remember particularly caring for was the third one.) Um... so, I'm not really a horror fan, but I at least like the idea of horror movies, and sometimes one of them manages to really entertain me. It's rarer that one manages to actually scare me, and I gotta say... this movie did. There are plenty of just plain gross bits, and there are some funny bits, but there are also lots of genuinely scary bits, including some very solid jump scares. Oh, before I forget, I wanted to mention the DVD I watched had both the PG-13 and unrated versions, and I watched the latter. I have no idea how much it differed from the PG-13 version. Anyway... if I was a horror fan, I'm sure I would have rated this movie higher than I did. For me to really dig a movie, generally speaking it should have a really good story and characters, which is possible for a horror movie... but not exactly the norm. And while I thought both elements were okay in this movie... the real attraction is the scares. If that's enough for you, I give this movie mad props.

Anyway, it's about this bank loan officer named Christine (Alison Lohman). She's up for promotion to assistant manager, and her competition is a newer employee named Stu (played by Reggie Lee, whom I mainly know from Grimm). Um... so... an old gypsy woman named Sylvia Ganush comes into the bank... no wait. I forgot to say that the movie actually starts in 1969. There's a medium who tries to help a boy who had been cursed by gypsies, but she fails, and his soul gets taken to Hell by an evil spirit called a Lamia. The medium vows to meet the Lamia again someday. Then the movie flashes forward to the present (2009). Anyway, Ganush comes into the bank and begs Christine for help, because the bank was foreclosing on her home, and she'd already been given two extensions. Christine says she'll talk to her manager, but he leaves the decision up to her. And because she's trying to win the promotion, she decides not to help Ganush.

That night, Ganush attacks Christine when she goes to her car to head home. Definitely a scary fight, but Christine wins. Then Ganush puts a curse on her. (I kind of thought it'd be neat if we would go through the whole movie thinking that, then it turned out Stu was actually the one who put a curse on her, and blaming the old gypsy woman was really just stereotyping- in spite of her clearly being insane. But no, it was her, alright.) Anyway... later, Christine and her philosophy professor boyfriend, Clay (Justin Long), end up outside a psychic's shop, and she decides she wants to get her fortune read. Clay is very pessimistic about it, but he goes along with it. The psychic, Rham Jas, is the one who tells her she's been cursed. So throughout the movie, he'll try to help her break the curse. She begins to be haunted by the Lamia, which apparently will drag her soul to Hell on the third day. She tries various things to stop the hauntings, including eventually going with Rham Jas to the medium we'd seen at the start of the movie. But nothing seems to help.

I won't reveal precisely how it all ends. I'll say there's a twist at the end that is pretty much impossible not to see coming, IMHO, and could easily have been avoided, but even so... it was horrifying. Really the whole movie was horrifying, which is just as it should be. So I can forgive the occasional lapse in judgement by any of the characters, because lapses in judgement are pretty much necessary, for this kind of story. The important thing is it was scary.

Edit: About the "Black List" link. Some time (probably a few years) after I watched this movie, I read a review on that blog (part of a series called "31 Days of Feminist Horror Films"). That review focuses on a subtext in the movie about bulimia, which I don't remember at all. So I'm not sure whether I failed to pick up on it when I watched the movie, or just neglected to mention it in my review and then forgot about it. (I'm guessing the former.) But I would like to rewatch the movie someday, with that theme in mind.

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