Sam Raimi | 2009 | 99 mins | USA
When Stephen King wrote his book, Thinner, in 1984, he didn't reeeeeeeally give the premise as much thought as he probably should have. (Note: Read the following in the goofy voice of Stephen King) "Okay, so it's about this gypsy who curses a fat guy so that he gets really, really thin!" OH NO! Sam Raimi has used a similar premise for his latest film, Drag Me to Hell, and maybe he didn't think it through all the way either, but who cares? It's awesome. (Note: Read the following in the goofy voice of Sam Raimi) "So um.. A gypsy curses this girl who works at a bank because she won't give her an extension to make her mortgage payment, and uh.. Oh, and the girl USED to be fat. So what can the curse do... The curse summons a sort of Satan meets a billy goat shadow demon to smack her around for a few days, and then swallow her soul. The Evil Dead fans will love that. Maybe I won't say 'swallow your soul' though. That'd be a bit much. But the Shadow Devil Goat is gonna be a really bad guy. His name is Lamia. It's gonna be scary. Trust me. I've still got it."
Even though you might not believe me, I assure you Sam Raimi's still got it! He really does! So much so that I feel bad for doubting him. Once the trailers were done and the OLD Universal Studios logo hit the screen, I knew that I was in the good hands that I trusted every time out from the late 80s until the late 90s. Performance-wise, Alison Lohman as Christine, the loan officer who's cursed, does a really good job, as does (surprisingly) Justin Long as her boyfriend, Clay. After getting a little stiff with the Spider-Man films, Raimi's script (co-written with his brother, Ivan) recalls the dark playfulness of Darkman and Army of Darkness but a little more refined, and dare I say... with better execution. More than it's a movie though, Drag Me to Hell is a filmed haunted house ride at a carnival. Around every other corner is the next thing, waiting to jump out and scare you. I'm not usually one for jump scares but more often than not here, they're followed up directly with a comedic gross out gag à la early Raimi and early Peter Jackson, so I couldn't stay mad no matter how many times the film startled me, or got the back of my seat kicked by the wimps behind me. The film delivers in screams, jumps, and with way more laughter than expected. About half of it at jokes/gags, and the other half of it being terrified/nervous laughter.
I can't imagine there being another horror movie this year that's more fun than Drag Me to Hell. It might not hold up quite so well on video, but it's not on video right now. It's in theaters. Nice big, loud, scary theaters. Buy the ticket. Take the ride.
Did I mention that the film uses unused score that Lalo Schifrin wrote for The Exorcist?!