Finally, after years of toiling (with mixed results) over a certain webslinging blockbuster saga that has made billions of dollars worldwide, the great Sam Raimi has returned to his roots in triumphant fashion and given us DRAG ME TO HELL, the most wildly entertaining, deliciously disgusting, hilariously scary and all-around effective horror movie I've seen in a long time.
Doe-eyed Alison Lohman plays Christine Brown, a bank loan officer who faces a crisis of conscience: Should she help the kindly old Gypsy woman who has come asking for a loan extension to save her house? Or should she "make the difficult decision" and decline the loan in order to win the good graces of her boss and earn a coveted promotion? When she chooses the latter, the Gypsy woman swears vengeance in the form of an ancient curse, promising that after three days of harrassment by a demon spirit, Christine's very soul will be (wait for it)...... dragged straight down to hell.
If this sounds a little cheesy, well, that's exactly the point. Nobody does this sort of comedy-horror like Raimi, the mastermind behind the EVIL DEAD films -- the movie is a smorgasbord of horror delights and Raimi handles each ingredient like a master chef. From the the glip-gloppy sounds of the old lady's teeth as she pops them back into her mouth... to a POLTERGEIST-esque scene where Christine is manhandled by a spirit and literally dragged across the walls and ceiling... to a slimy eyeball popping out of a slice of cake... to a simple housefly inducing spine-tingling chills... to a bizarre seance involving a game of hot potato with an evil spirit and a demonic goat... just when you think it can't get any crazier, it does. And just when you think it's all over... it's not!
Raimi handles the tongue-in-cheek dialogue, copious bodily fluids, glorious sound effects and suspense like a true master. Cheesy as it is, the thrills are legit. There isn't a cheapie to be had -- every twitch, jump and squeal is well-earned. Many times, such as Christine's wild mano-a-mano parking lot fight against the Gypsy woman, I didn't know whether to cringe with revulsion or howl with laughter -- turns out it's not easy to do both. Only Raimi at his best can elicit such a response, and he does it well and often. It's the kind of movie you'll want to experience on the biggest screen, with the loudest sound system, and biggest crowd you can find (I recommend auditorium 13 at the Regal E-Walk Theatre in Times Square), strap yourself in and enjoy the ride.
I understand that Raimi is currently in the early stages of SPIDER-MAN 4, which of course will make a shit-ton of money, regardless of whether it's acceptable (like #1), great (like #2) or horrendous (like #3). But hey, if he uses those Spidey resources to come back and bring us his trademark brand of horror every now and then, all will be right with the world. Sam Raimi, you can DRAG ME TO HELL anytime!