I wish I could have seen Drag Me to Hell at a drive-in movie theater. This is a horror movie that's knows it's cheesy and revels in it, thanks to director and co-writer Sam Raimi.

Life isn't easy for Christine Brown (Alison Lohman). She's dating college professor Clay (Justin Long), whose mother doesn't consider Christine a serious girlfriend. At her bank job, Christine is competing with Stu (Reggie Lee) for an assistant manager position, and manager Mr. Jacks (David Paymer) is always alternating between Christine and Stu about who's first in the competition. He tells Christine that she has to make the hard decisions.

Enter Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver), an ancient gypsy with long yellow fingernails, horrible teeth, and a creepy yellow eye. Mrs. Ganush has had two loan extensions and needs a third or she'll lose her home. Christine chooses this time to become assertive, earning the anger of the gypsy.

And Mrs. Ganush is certainly angry. After she attacks Christine (in a battle involving a seat belt, stapler, ruler, and trying to bite someone when your false teeth have fallen out), Mrs. Ganush places a curse on Christine. In no time at all Christine suffers everything from flies coming after her to being attacked by an invisible force to seeing horrible visions and hearing noises.

Clay doesn't believe anything supernatural is happening, but Christine turns to Rham Jas (Dileep Rao), a psychic who helps Christine (while always taking her money). Christine has three days to get rid of the evil spirit that Mrs. Ganush has sent after her, or Christine will, well, you know the title of the movie. (This gruesome fate befalls a little boy who stole from a gypsy, in a scene shown before the opening credits.)

It's nice to see a movie that is silly without being stupid. Sam Raimi returns to the horror he did with the Evil Dead trilogy (and fans of those films can spot several effects taken from them and put in this new film), relying not on hyperactive camera work and big budget effects but rather camera angles, roaring sounds, sudden visual surprises and a none-too-subtle soundtrack that kicks in every time menace looms. Drag Me to Hell has lots of tension and a few genuine scares, but the horror is often so ridiculously excessive it turns to comedy -- and Raimi knows this and uses it.

The cast is good, even if they're present in service of the scares. Alison Lohman looks, sounds, and acts just like Pam from The Office, as she moves from timid to assertive to terrified and slightly insane. Justin Long has little to do as the skeptical-but-supportive boyfriend, but Lorna Raver is wonderful as the decrepit old woman whose vengeance is relentless.

Drag Me to Hell is an enjoyable little horror movie, something that mixes scares and comedy to nice effect. This flick doesn't have great acting or original ideas, but it hearkens back to the age of the good B-movie matinee movie.

Overall grade: B

Reviewed by James Lynch

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