Drag Me To Hell

This week I have an abscessed tooth, a root canal and a reaction to some medication. Luckily playwright James Comtois swings to the rescue, bringing us a guest column reviewing a film that opened last Friday.

Drag Me To Hell

By James Comtois

Finally, a horror film that deals with the subprime mortgage market and foreclosure crisis. Sort of. Okay, not really.

After spending the bulk of the decade being entrenched in the Spider-Man series, director Sam Raimi has decided to go back to his Evil Dead cult filmmaking roots with Drag Me To Hell, a delightfully trashy comedy-horror that serves as a de facto Evil Dead 4, albeit with a larger budget and (sadly) no Bruce Campbell.

Right out of the gate, Mr. Raimi uses the old Universal logo from the ‘80s, showing us his desire to go back in time when he was a maker of schlock cinema rather than the man behind a multi-million dollar franchise.

After a prologue that takes place in the 1960s where a medium (played by Flor de Maria Chahua) tries—and fails—to save a young cursed boy, Drag Me To Hell cuts to the present day where Christine Brown (Alison Lohman), a young mortgage loan officer, is vying for a promotion. According to her boss, Jim Jacks (the wonderful character actor David Paymer), the assistant manager position is either going to her or her sycophantic co-worker, Stu (Reggie Lee). She’s lobbying for the promotion for two reasons: one, to rid herself of her working class pig farming roots, and two, to impress her boyfriend, Clay’s (Justin “I’m a Mac” Long) affluent and snooty mother.

One day, an old gypsy woman, Mrs. Ganush (a thoroughly creepy Lorna Raver) comes into the office and asks Christine if she can have an extension on her home loan to prevent being foreclosed on. Mr. Jacks leaves it in her hands, suggesting that she needs to demonstrate that she can make tough decisions and hard calls.

To prove that she’s got what it takes for the promotion, Christine denies Mrs. Ganush an extension on her loan. The old woman gets down on her knees and begs her, but no dice. Later in the bank’s parking lot, Christine and Mrs. Ganush engage in a not-so-diplomatic (read: cartoonishly violent) confrontation, which ends with Mrs. Ganush putting an ancient curse on the poor ambitious young Christine.

Before long, Christine starts experiencing the effects of the curse, ranging from having the windows of her house shatter to seeing a silhouette of a man with goat horns stalking her to being flat-out physically pummeled by an imaginary spirit. These torments increase as the days continue, and a fortune teller (Dileep Rao) eventually warns her that, before long, the curse will end with her being dragged down to…wait, what’s the name of this movie again?

Mr. Raimi, working from a script he wrote with his brother Ivan, delivers as many shock and gross-out moments as he can get away with for a PG-13 rating. I suspect Mr. Raimi understands the MPAA system so well he knows exactly what he can get away with to avoid an R rating, and pushes it as far as he can (it really is a shock that this movie isn’t R, to be honest). There’s absolutely no subtlety here: clearly, the goal for Drag Me To Hell is to make the audience members jump out of their seats and scream, then laugh at their own discomfort, then scream again.

You may be wondering if this movie is for you. Well, there’s an easy way to figure that out. Do you like well-made B-movies? Did you find Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn fun and funny? Do you find the idea of a demonically possessed goat taunting someone amusing? Will seeing someone’s eyeball pop out of her skull and into someone else’s mouth make you laugh? If you answered “yes” to these questions (as I did), then absolutely, Drag Me To Hell is for you. If you answered, with horrified disgust, “Absolutely not!” well, then, there’s always Pixar’s Up, another delightful movie (for completely different reasons) playing in theatres.

Be sure to check out James' latest play, now in production.

Nosedive Productions

in association with the Brick Theater

presents

Infectious Opportunity

A new play by James Comtois

Directed by Pete Boisvert 

At the Brick Theater on 575 Metropolitan Ave. in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

VERY LIMITED ENGAGEMENT

Sunday, June 7th at 5pm

Tuesday, June 9th at 8pm

Saturday, July 1st at 9pm

Friday, July 3rd at 7pm

Wes Farley, a screenwriter known for having HIV, is enjoying national attention with his latest film. There’s only one problem: he's faked his illness for the past 10 years to boost his career, and is now slowly comprehending the drawbacks of his plan. With the help of his friend Josie, Wes revisits his past and sees how an ill-advised white lie early in life ensnared him in his current situation.

Featuring

Rebecca Comtois - DR Hanson - Daryl Lathon* - David Ian Lee* 

Ronica Reddick* - Andrea Marie Smith - Matthew Trumbull*

* Denotes member of the Actor's Equity Association

Part of the Antidepressant Festival at the Brick.

Get your tickets here!