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Philly2Philly Philm Review: Drag Me to Hell

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Stars: Alison Lohman and Justin Long

Director: Sam Raimi

Running time: 99 minutes

Drag Me to HellA young innocent plagued by evil. Otherworldly spirits bent on revenge. If it sounds familiar,that’s because director Sam Raimi has returned to the genre that made him a household name.

Raimi’s first film, 1981’s The Evil Dead, brought critical accolades for its mix of originalityand humor when it was released. Flash forward to 2009, and the creative mind behind the hugely-successful Spiderman trilogy has given us Drag me to Hell, a chilling, suspense filled tale about one woman's quest to reverse an evil curse.

Alison Lohman is effective in the role of Christine Brown, a loan officer who denies an extension to an older woman in an effort to impress her boss and garner a promotion. As Christine quickly learns, her actions will have chilling consequences. The elderly woman has placed the curse of the Lamia upon Christine, who's task is to remove the curse and save her soul. Without giving too much of the story away (I have an ethical issue with spoilers), let’s just say Christine has her work cut out for her and is forced to make some tough choices when it comes to her survival.

Drag Me to Hell is part slapstick, part slimy and just flat-out gross at times-but it is a relentlessly fun film to watch, primarily because it offers a refreshing change of pace in an often predictable genre and isn’t another tired Hollywood remake. Alison Lohman is turning into a terrific actress, and her on-screen versatility is just beginning to emerge. The supporting cast does just that, as it its clearly Lohman’s film-and her battle against evil to either win or lose.

While it is entertaining, the film doesn’t really take us far enough in terms of plot and story arc. While Raimi does overreach a bit with the comedic aspects here, he fails to push the narrative beyond its supernatural elements. I would expect a bit more creativity from this imaginative director, but his gift for the macabre rescues the movie from these flaws.

In an ode to our culture’s current obsession with social media, the film's official website allows visitors to log on and send a "Facebook curse" to someone via Jinx the Cat. Some of the tongue-in-cheek reasons listed for sending the curse include “because you never recycle” and “because you talk during movies.” Clearly, Raimi’s sense of humor is still intact.

Of course, dragging someone to Hell via the world wide web is a lot easier than being whisked away to the depths of Hades while sitting innocently in a dark theater. If Raimi had a choice, something tells me he’d opt for the latter.

Philly2Philly Phinal rating: ** ½ stars out of *****