Drag Me To Hell

Year: 2009
Production Co: Mandate Pictures
Studio: Universal
Director: Sam Raimi
Producer: Sam Raimi
Writer: Sam Raimi/Ivan Raimi
Cast: Alison Lohman, Justin Long, David Paymer

If I hadn't known this was a Sam Raimi film before watching it I think I would have guessed. There's a direct line between the ghoul's eyeball shooting across the room and into the screaming woman's mouth (Evil Dead II) and Mrs Raver spewing dirt, bugs and mulch into Christine's mouth (Lohman) as she attacks her.

Despite the slickness $30m buys there's an unmistakable sense of horror slapstick, of the grossest possible stuff you can imagine (usually involving something disgusting in your mouth) that - it turns out - is still Raimi's trademark. Where the Spider-Man films were like a nine to five job, this feels more like it would have been akin to hanging around buddies with beer and pizza for him.

Christine ends up in such a compromising position because she's trying to impress her bank manager boss (Paymer), who's told her tough decisions will get her the sought-after promotion she's in competition with against a colleague.

Her next opportunity to make one comes when she refuses to extend credit to a gnarled old foreign woman who comes asking. Things turn nasty and the woman spits incomprehensible abuse at Christine, who is shaken but okay.

Except that the woman (a powerful gypsy) has put a curse on her that means a demon will torment her for three days, eventually dragging her soul to hell for eternal suffering.

With her devoted but skeptical boyfriend (Long) having a hard time accepting her behaviour, Christine has to consult a coterie of spirit mediums to try and find a loophole before it's too late.

There are lots of very effective scares of the sudden jump as well as the creeping fear kind and a great sense of old fashioned horror movie fun. It's a well-crafted treat for genre fans that's a world away from the nihilistically gory Saw and it's ilk.

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