With Drag Me to Hell, director Sam Raimi (Spider-Man) returns to the humor-laced horror subgenre he mined so successfully in his Evil Dead trilogy. Inventive in its staging and photography (credit in part goes to frequent Lynch collaborator, Peter Deming), the movie is clever. But, for better or worse, some of the cheeky humor seems quaint in today’s post-“torture porn” era. And though I felt like I was sometimes the only spectator in on the joke, it didn’t make me feel smarter as much as it made me feel older and out of step.
Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) is a loan officer, recently transplanted to the West coast, and insecure about her past as a small-town, overweight farm girl. You get the sense that she’ll do anything to repress her origins. She has a boyfriend, Clay (Justin Long), who comes from money; she dismisses her cravings for ice cream by pretending she’s lactose intolerant; and she’s even willing to help her bank evict frail, old Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver) from her house to get the promotion she desperately pursues. But Mrs. Ganush, a powerful gypsy witch, places a curse on her. For three days, Christine will be tormented by a goat-demon, the Lamia, before she is ultimately dragged into hell, for all eternity.