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Drag Me to Hell


Christine has a doting boyfriend, a good job and much promise until she refuses to extend the overdue home loan of Mrs. Ganush, a strange one-eyed Gypsy woman who literally begs to keep her residence of 30 years. The ambitious Christine doesn't budge and the woman unleashes the horrendous curse of the Lamia on the unsuspecting banker turning her life into hell on Earth. When she goes to a psychic to reverse the curse, her entire existence is turned upside down, becoming a living nightmare with no light at the end of a very dark tunnel.


As Christine, Alison Lohman gets to chew the scenery like there's no tomorrow. Living an actor's dream, Lohman gets under the skin of this wickedly cursed girl and gives it her all in one harrowing sequence after another. Justin Long has the standard thankless role of her understanding, but perplexed and confused boyfriend. Playing it straight, he basically stands on the sidelines watching his girlfriend go slowly mad. As Christine's boss, David Paymer is all business while Dileep Rao, as the all-knowing seer Christine turns to in her most dire time of need, is quite effective in a handful of scenes. Stealing the show lock, stock and barrel though is unquestionably the veteran TV character actress Lorna Raver, who is aptly named Mrs. Ganush she is stark-raving mad. The character is blissfully over-the-top (and then some), and Raver, under mounds of scary-as-hell makeup, hits it out of the park.


Returning to his celebrated roots in horror, Spider-Man director Sam Raimi (The Evil Dead) is clearly in his comfort zone as he delivers one of the best examples of the genre seen in many years. Although some CGI trickery and puppetry is employed to full effect, Raimi manages to get his best jolts with expert use of camera angles, creeping shadows, blowing wind, strong visual flourishes, amped up sound effects and a brilliantly vivid musical score from Christopher Young. Raimi shows today's purveyors of "torture porn" you don't need graphic violence to scare the crap out of an audience — just talent. Hitchcock would have approved.


The PG-13 rating probably forced Raimi's hand in turning on the juice and REALLY dragging us through hell in a couple of scenes so we're hoping there's an uncut DVD special edition coming along eventually.


There are many to choose from including a classic dinner scene with the boyfriend's parents, but for pure intensity, the initial bank and parking garage encounter between Lohman and Raver has lots of teeth (so to speak) and is still sending chills down our spine. Also, the creepy use of a ''nosey'' fly pays dividends through the entire film for the ultimate audience freakout.


Drag yourself to a multiplex. A fright flick that is this much fun deserves to be seen in a packed theater. rated this film 3 1/2 stars.