It’s been 17 years since Sam Raimi hit the horror market. In the meantime, he’s been swinging with the “Spider-Man” trilogy. But now the auteur of “The Evil Dead” returns to the occult genre with a simple morality tale about a good woman who makes a bad choice that’s motivated by greed in the form of her desire for a promotion. She then hides behind ‘rules and regulations’ to avoid coming to terms with her sin.
Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) is an ambitious L.A. loan officer who refuses to grant a mortgage extension to an elderly woman, Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver), defaulting her out of her home. In retaliation for the humiliation, the creepy, phlegmy old crone places the gypsy curse of the Lamia (a half-man/half-goat) on Christine, muttering, “Soon it will be you who comes begging to me.”
Sure enough, Christine’s life becomes horrendous as she’s stalked by shadowy demonic creatures. Since her puzzled but supportive college professor fiancé, Clay Dalton (Justin Long), cautions her against superstition, she turns to a Hindu psychic, Rham Jas (Dileep Tao), which leads to a surreal exorcism-séance led by Shaun San Dena (Adriana Barraza). But what price must the increasingly frantic Christine pay to break free of the curse?
Despite its prescient timeliness, Sam Raimi wrote the tongue-in-cheek screenplay with his brother Ivan more than a decade ago. So he insists it wasn’t designed to reflect our society’s current ills or condemn bankers as villains. Nor did Raimi eschew his trademark blood-and-guts just to garner a PG-13 rating, a designation which, apparently, condones other kinds of physical violence, not only with a stapler but also with bodily fluids, including being ‘slimed’ with saliva.
Youthful Alison Lohman brings just the right amount of desperation to the protagonist, while Lorna Raver’s Ganush joins the ranks of classic horror characters. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Drag Me to Hell” is a schlocky, spooky 7. It’s a disturbing terror thriller with an unusually loud soundtrack.