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"Drag Me to Hell" — (Bullz-Eye Movie Review)

June 6, 2009

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Character actress Lorna Raver starred in the year’s best reviewed horror film, and all she got was this lousy button.

Being in the same general ethnic/religious cohort doesn’t give me the right to speak for writer-director Sam Raimi and his co-writer brother Ivan, but this Jewish kid was just a little bit traumatized when he first learned about the traditional Christian concept of hell. Judaism has no hell other than guilt and death, so learning about the fire, the pitchforks, and the eternal torment – and that millions believed that, by virtue of my non-Christianity, I was going to suffer all of it – was a little traumatic. I hadn’t even done anything bad enough yet to be grounded.

In “Drag Me to Hell,” Raimi and company fashion what is in some respects an only slightly less unjust universe, in which the failure to perform a single mitvah (usually translated from Hebrew as a good deed, but in reality it means the act of obeying a commandment) is transubstantiated from Jewish recrimination into Catholic punishment of the pre-Vatican II variety. In this case, a single selfish choice lands loan officer Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) in serious danger of eternal damnation after being cursed, Gypsy style, by Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver), easily the least attractive woman of any age in Los Angeles. It gets worse; the woman has very sharp and very ugly dentures, and she’s not afraid to use them, right alongside the supernatural abilities available to all Romani movie females over age 60. Naturally, poor Christine’s relationship with her understanding psychologist boyfriend (Justin “I’m a Mac” Long, playing straight man for a change) will be somewhat strained as she is subjected to one bizarre supernatural attack after another – including surprise visits in her car, a projectile nosebleed (at least a pint’s worth), and the old eyeball-in-the-“Harvest Cake” trick.

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*****

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