“Drag Me to Hell”
Universal
At Quality 16 and Showcase

Courtesy of Universal

4.5 out of 5 stars

Casual moviegoers be warned: “Drag Me to Hell” is a darkly comic, terrifying and exceptionally gory horror film — not exactly everyone’s cup of tea. For those who can stomach the blood and guts, it’s an incredibly fun and often heart-stopping film.

The movie presents the horrible consequences of a dreadful yet innocent choice made by Christine Brown (Alison Lohman, “Matchstick Men”), a loan officer who wants to impress her boss by making a “tough decision.” Her big moment comes when she must decide if she should deny the elderly Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver, TV’s “The Young and the Restless”) an extension on her mortgage.

Unfortunately for Brown, she chooses to deny the old lady’s loan and sends her packing. Although the act is heartless, Brown probably doesn’t deserve the punishment that follows. Brown is cursed by Ganush and then tormented for the rest of the film by a gaggle of shadowy demons, creepy sound effects and some truly disgusting moments. Some scenes involve repugnant fluids and creatures flying out of the old woman’s mouth. Yeah. It’s as awful as it sounds.

But the gross-out factor is part of what makes this film delightful (if that’s the right word to use here) for some horror fans. Then there are those who may feel that having the old woman remove her false teeth in order to try and eat the heroine’s face is a bit over-the-top.

It’s true that the film often gets downright stomach churning in many scenes. For the not quite hardened horror fan, it can sometimes lead to intense nausea. Even those who consider themselves desensitized to disgusting things may find themselves looking away.

Director Sam Raimi (“Spider-Man”) has lent his hand to numerous horror films in the past (the most prominent among them being the classic “Evil Dead” series), and is known for bringing an interesting blend to the genre. He tactfully mixes comedy with terror and still finds a way to make pulses race. This film is certainly no exception, as the laughs and screams are often within seconds of each other. Raimi knows how to create a perfect balance of these two elements, something more horror films should take note of.

“Drag Me to Hell” is definitely unlike anything that you can see in theaters right now, and this is meant in the best way possible. It presents its audience with something not often found: A smart horror film that doesn’t take itself seriously and never grows tiresome. This is a film that can’t simply be seen and then forgotten about. Years from now, this will undoubtedly be revered as a must-see horror classic.

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