“Drag Me to Hell” follows Christine, a soft-spoken loan officer who is jostling for a job promotion. In the act of impressing her boss (David Paymer), she makes the grave mistake of evicting an old woman who cannot pay the mortgage on time. That old woman is not just any gummy granny, of course. She is a gung-ho gypsy (the hoot-worthy Lorna Raver) – one vengeful enough to curse the loan officer to hell. Poor Christine scrambles for a miracle. She solicits help from an informed mystic (Dileep Rao) even if her beau (Justin Long) is skeptic of the occult. But her nightmare is very real, with unwelcome visits from a soul-taking demon as proofs.

Christine is played by actress Alison Lohman whom I fondly remember as Nicholas Cage’s con-daughter in “Matchstick Men.” She once again employs her youthful looks to initially convey innocence. And slowly, Lohman builds Christine into a tough bold woman, even kicking elderly butt to boot. By the end, she’s hopeful for a loophole; not one to despair to be dragged to you-know-where.

For Christine to earn our admiration though, the movie lavishly feeds the screaming gal with slabs of troubles. From ominous parking lots to muddy graveyards, “Drag Me to Hell” drags its pretty protagonist to preposterous yet spooky happenstances. Even if some are old familiar set-ups, the outcome remains spry due to the story’s penchant for retro violence and dark humor. This is a movie that’s relentlessly alive and, not to mention, constantly creative. Even harmless things such as a cloth or a fly turn into unexpected menace. This is my first time toe-dipping into director Sam Raimi’s gooey pool of horror. By the end, I was glad to have slipped and fall head over heels.

Grade: A-

Alison Lohman, Justin Long, Dileep Rao, David Paymer, Adriana Barraza, and Lorna Raver
Written by
Ivan and Sam Raimi
Directed by
Sam Raimi
Rated PG-13 for sequences of horror violence, terror, disturbing images and language.