Film Reviews

DRAG ME TO HELL

By • May 30th, 2009 •

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Sam Raimi does not cheat us. I believe in curses and after Drag Me to Hell, so will you.

I certainly believe in demons, Hell, spirit possession, and curses. After I cursed someone by email (that went all around the UFO world), the cursed – who deserved it – went immediately to the ICU and was, supposedly, at death’s door for a week. I was blamed, but it was merely a coincidence!

I have a home shrine to EXU*.

Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) has a good job as a loan officer at a bank and a devoted boyfriend, Clay (Justin Long). Christine’s farm-bred wholesomeness is working against her especially with Clay’s class-conscious parents. There is an assistant manager position open at the bank and Christine is competing with brown-nosing Stu (Reggie Lee) for the position.

When elderly, one-eyed crone Mrs. Ganush (Lornia Raver) arrives at Christine’s desk for an extension of her mortgage, she is rudely dismissed by Christine. With two previous extensions already, Christine makes the decision to reject her appeal and impress her boss (David Paymer). The promotion is on the line.

Mrs. Ganush gets on her knees and begs Christine. Furious with being shamed by Christine, Mrs. Ganush takes a button from her coat and puts a curse on her. Let the game begin! Christine is soon attacked by Mrs. Ganush in the parking garage in a no-holds-barred fight.

Victoria Alexander's Home Shrine to EXU

Passing a psychic storefront, Christine goes inside and is told by Rham Jas (Dileep Rao) that she has been cursed by a gypsy and has 3 days of attacks before a demon comes for her soul to drag her to hell.

Director Sam Raimi knows what the Compassionate Buddha taught about our relationship to our bodies: Yes, we are driven by its sensual compulsions but everything that leaves the body is considered by us to be disgusting. Think about it. We are horrified by bodily discharges. Mrs. Ganush is physically repulsive and vomits and spits up gallons of vile phlegm and gunk all over Christine multiple times. It’s more terrifying than a lonely midnight walk through a deserted forest.

Movie audiences can watch bodies hacked to pieces and extended torture, but this display proves to leave people gasping. I hid my eyes from it.

Gypsy curses work fast. Christine and Rham Jas go to a trance medium to try to sweet-talk the demon. It doesn’t come cheap.

I was willingly possessed twice by “The Great Uncle” in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

The demon turns up but is not in the mood for conversation or negotiation. It shows off admirably and ramps up Christine’s hysteria. She’s on the fast track to hell. (When I was in China, I got a Hell Passport, Hell Money issued from The Bank of Hell, and the deed to a condo overlooking The Lake of Fire. I’m prepared.)

The only thing left for Christine to do is gift the curse to someone else. Ah, the perfect conundrum!

Thank you Sam Raimi for not cheating us! The screenplay by Raimi and brother Ivan gives us a complicated Christine trapped in her own social pressure bias but she cannot sympathize with the old lady. She wins the garage fight and threatens a waitress. Justin Long has the girlfriend role.


* Exú is an orisha, and one of the most known deities of the Yoruba. He has a wide range of responsibilities: the protector of travelers, deity of roads, particularly crossroads, the deity with the power over fortune and misfortune, and the personification of death, a psychopomp. Exú is involved within the Orisa, as well as in African diasporic faiths like Santeria/Lukumi and Brazilian Candomble. Since Umbandists believe that all that exists arises from the interaction of two opposite forces, they maintain that these forces permeate everything. Thus, when dealing with Exú, they conceive of two divisions, the male Exú, and the female Pomba-Gira, or Exú Woman. Innumerable Exús and Pombas-Giras exist because each represents a distinctive aspect of the entity’s potency. Exú is the intermediary between the gods and humankind, the messenger of both good and evil.

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