AWFJ Women On Film – “Drag Me To Hell” – Susan Granger reviews

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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.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.