Everything has been coming up roses for Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) lately. Career-wise, the ambitious banker is close to landing a plum promotion to assistant manager. Meanwhile, her love life is equally promising, as her boyfriend (Justin Long) is secretly planning to pop the question soon.
However, this state of bliss starts to dissolve into a neverending nightmare the day a ghastly-looking senior citizen on a fixed income enters the branch office to ask for another extension on her overdue mortgage payment. Mrs. Ganush's (Lorna Raver) gross behavior makes it easier for Christine to foreclose on the house, especially since she's trying to impress her eavesdropping boss (David Paymer). Out of desperation, the old lady swallows her pride and gets down on her knees to beg. But this overture is only met with a call to security to carry the disruptive customer out of the building bodily.
Instead of driving away in her dilapidated jalopy, the humiliated customer hides in the bank's parking lot for Christine to level a chilling threat: "Soon, it will be you who comes begging to me!" Truer words were never spoken onscreen. I'm not sure when a horror flick has ever had a more timely theme, given the record number of sub-prime mortgages in default.
Regardless of whether the premise was by coincidence or design, "Drag Me to Hell" is the best horror flick of 2009 thus far, hands down. Credit director/co-writer Sam Raimi for crafting a spine-tingling adventure guaranteed to elicit blood-curdling screams and to make you jump out of your seat when you least expect it.
Taking a page out of Hitchcock, he accomplishes this feat without resorting to the gratuitous gore we see splattered across the screen in most of the scary genre's recent offerings. But don't be deceived by the film's deceptively-benign PG-13 rating. This relentless shockfest is still not for the faint of heart, and is likely to leave youngsters as afraid of evicted, vindictive old ladies as they are of the dark.
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 99 minutes
Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
DVD Extras: Production video diaries.
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