If anyone thinks that Raimi's time spent bringing Marvel Comic's wall-crawling hero to the screen has softened his sensibilities, or that Drag's PG-13 rating is a sign that this isn't a movie for the hardcore fans, they'd be wrong. Drag Me To Hell is Raimi reclaiming the geek crown that got knocked off-kilter with his poorly received Spider-Man 3 (2007). This is a virtuoso performance that will single-handedly keep Raimi's reputation intact for at least another ten years. But don't expect Raimi to be coasting any time soon. Drag Me To Hell is the work of a hungry young director, not a middle-aged success story with nothing left to prove. It's bracing stuff, filled with a wide-eyed enthusiasm for the kind of thrills that until now have belonged to another time.
The story of a bank loan officer (Alison Lohman) who denies a mortgage extension to the wrong gypsy woman and spends the next three days of her life looking for every possible way to escape a sentence to Hell itself, Drag Me To Hell is a simple tale, told with a master's knack for wringing the most out of every scene. It's essentially a Tales from the Crypt episode, with the same strident moralizing as the best of those stories, served up with extra helpings of maggots, blood, and other viscous fluids. It doesn't pave any new ground for the genre but it does confirm that even in a post-torture porn era, there's still a place for Raimi's brand of 'spook-a-blast' entertainment. That said, what I appreciated most about Drag Me To Hell is how mean-spirited a film Raimi has made. Even if Raimi is playing much of this with a grin, the outsized retribution visited upon this eager-to-succeed farm girl and how her ordeal changes her makes for a blisteringly bitter fable.
I'd like to think that it won't be just Raimi that's energized by Drag Me To Hell but everyone out there currently making horror movies. I just hope it won't be so long until Raimi decides to drag himself back to doing what he does best.