From out of a debtor’s nightmare (and special fun thanks to the economic cycle we are now swimming through) comes Sam Raimi’s return to the world of real horror movies, with a salute to the original films that made his initial reputation, The Evil Dead Series.
The entertainment begins with the Universal Picture’s logo, not the current tribute to corporate mentality, but the logo used back in the early 1980s when Raimi’s first movie appeared. In 1981 “The Evil Dead,” a low-budget thriller made in a small backwoods’ cabin on the North Carolina/Tennessee border hit the screens. This was a very stylish movie, made with a budget of $375,000 (it grossed about $29,400,000) to mostly positive reviews. But in the end, money talks and the imagination that most thought Raimi possessed began to decline as the money invested in his movies increased. Now just when we need a good old horror movie, “Drag Me to Hell” opens to mostly extravagantly favorable and well-deserved reviews.
After great titles (including a great close-up of the eye of a housefly, Christine Brown (Alison Lehman) is an ambitious LA loan officer in one of those ubiquitous banks that seem to be opening in reverse ratio to the banks failing in the US (three on the Hendersonville Road this year), who is ambitious and out to prove her potential in the banking business. She shares one of those great LA homes with elegant junk surrounding a bungalow that she shares with her most charming boyfriend, Professor Clay Dalton (Justin Long). It should be noted that at this point, Christine appears to be the only possessor of any ethics in her particular bank (although we never meet the cleaning staff of the minor tellers).
One afternoon, a rather elderly lady, Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver), suffering with a heavy cough and fingernails needing both bleach and a good clipping, shows up at Christine’s desk asking for an extension on her home loan. Dilemma: Should our loan officer take the caring way out and grant the request or should she not only fold back the sheets but get into bed with her boss, Mr. Jacks (David Paymer)--who is a salute to sleaze--in order to secure a big promotion.
Naturally, she denies the loan and in retaliation, the old woman places the powerful curse of the Lamia on Christine, transforming her life into a living hell. Badgered by evil spirits--that for a time only she alone can see--and misunderstood by a skeptical boyfriend (who does dearly love her), she seeks the aid of seer Rham Jas (Dileep Rao) to save her soul from eternal damnation. It’s all downhill from here as Christine plays button, button with the Devil, and all the staples of a good horror film show up, but each with a twist of its own.
Each time it appears that Christine has won her fight with evil, a new problem arises (cat-lovers be warned). However, if you could maintain decorum while sitting through the end of Poltergeist, you’ll have no problems here, except to be embarrassed by your own (hidden) laughter keyed to the humor in this flick.