Drag Me to Hell
Today was one of those splendid spring days that are all too rare in our northern climate. The sun was shining. The sky was blue. And there was actually a hint of warmth in the air. Given all that, I was less than impressed when I ended up with the lucky ticket to spend the best time of the day inside a dark movie theater being dragged through nearly two hours of screeching violins and a slobbering old woman with an oral fixation.
Do I sound a little bitter about my unfortunate draw at the office?
It’s not because I don’t like scary movies. Like roller coasters and whitewater rafting, horror flicks can give audiences a huge adrenaline rush in a comparatively safe environment. But to do that requires more than a bunch of clanging pots and pans, unexplained wind gusts and ominous shadows. To buy into the tension, viewers need to at least care about the poor creature at the center of all the terror.
But, considering the banking industry’s recent negative press in the economic meltdown, a loan officer doesn’t inspire immediate empathy. Nevertheless, that’s what Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) is. Although she is a pleasant young lady, she’s under a lot of pressure at the moment. In addition to overhearing some coldhearted comments about her weight and upbringing, Christine is one of two candidates on the short list for the assistant manager’s job at the bank. However, her boss (David Paymer) and coworker (Reggie Lee) appear to be doing everything in their power to remind her she’s a girl in the old boys’ club of finances.
As a result, when an ill, aging immigrant (Lorna Raver) asks for an extension on her mortgage, Christine decides to play tough. She refuses to grant clemency and calls security when the old woman falls to her knees to plead for mercy. As Mrs. Ganush is being escorted from the office, she beseeches an unseen power and calls down an ancient curse on the girl that even a psychic (Dileep Rao) and a medium (Adriana Barraza) have trouble breaking.
What follows is three days (in movie time) of loud, eerie noises, animal sacrifices and gross out scenes that will trigger the gag reflex in anyone who isn’t fond of seeing countless objects (arms, maggots, saliva, embalming fluid or a housefly) either jabbed into or disgorged out of a character’s mouth. While all this transmits into plenty of jump scenes as Christine claws her way out of an open grave and fights off the advances of a toothless assailant who repeatedly gnaws on her chin, she frequently sports a vacant stare that left me wondering if she doesn’t understand the severity of her situation or she is just scared spitless. Her boyfriend (Justin Long), a nice enough guy despite his stereotypical rich, snobbish parents (Chelcie Ross, Molly Creek), doesn’t grasp where Christine is headed either.
Meanwhile, cursed with an unwanted assignment, I was just wishing for a little heat in a cold theater—preferably from the sun rather than that other place.