Be will endure enough loud surprises to bring on arrhythmia

Drag Me to Hell

An Illusion Review by Joan Ellis


            Acting against the accumulated wisdom of my lifetime, I went to see a movie called “Drag Me to Hell.” Why? Because in this early summer season of boring movie releases, trying something different seemed like a good idea. When the fine director Sam Raimy and his writer brother Ivan do a movie together, there is at least the hope of good luck. In collusion with the outsized talent of movie composer Christopher Young, who has been a horror fan all his life, the promise of quality fear hung in the air. The first and last horror movie I saw was the original “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” with Spencer Tracy, and that left me with a lurking fear of loud noise, scary music, the shock of s urprise, and yellow teeth among other things.

            Christine (Alison Lohman) is a loan officer in training at a branch bank. Will she get the promotion or will she have to resign herself to filling out ledgers? Her boss (David Paymer) is a supercilious sap who allows himself to be suckered by such things as the gift of sports tickets from Christine’s competitor, a creepy apple polisher named Stu (Reggie Lee). Toughen up, the boss advises Christine.

            When Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver) comes to beg for an extension on her mortgage payment, she is facing the new Christine who has shelved her compassion. As the suddenly monsterized Mrs. Ganush attacks the young banker, the movie plunges into its genre. The old woman casts a curse on Christine and unleashes a horrific series of screams, growls, and yellow tusks, all to the effectively intimidating sound track created by Christopher Young. If you close your eyes and just listen, his music will scare you more than the sight.

            Since it would be cruel to reveal a menu of the shocks, just be warned that in no particular order you will endure enough loud surprises to bring on arrhythmia, an abundance of bodily liquids including blood, embalming fluid, vomit, a ghastly scene involving false teeth and glop, an underground garage that promises mayhem, and an ominous Victorian house. You will see a fly crawl up one nostril, out the other and into a mouth; and then you’ll hear flies in the belly. In a scene that smacks of Meet the Parents, you will meet a prize winning harridan of a potential mother-in-law and a piece of cake that moves – all by itself – on the plate. You won’t like the why of that one.

            The movie is about a curse announced and accomplished. It generates a good deal of audience laughter, the appreciative kind, an indication that those who love the genre have fastened onto Sam Raimi’s originality. In spite of the general silliness, the images are all of the kind you hope never in your life to see. The combination of imagery and score induce groans in all comers. By the way, have you ever seen anyone vomit up a cat?


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