Movie Review

Drag Me to Hell a.k.a. “Jusqu'en enfer”

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of horror violence, terror, disturbing images and language.

Reviewed by: Eric Hernandez
First-time GUEST REVIEWER

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults, Teens
Genre:
Supernatural, Thriller, Suspense, Horror
Length:
1 hr. 39 min.
Year of Release:
2009
USA Release:
May 29, 2009 (wide—2,400 theaters)
DVD: October 13, 2009 (Unrated version)
Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures Copyright, Universal Pictures
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Universal Pictures

Curses in the Bible

Enchantments

Demons, Satan and Devil

SATAN—Is Satan a real person that influences our world today? Is he affecting you? Answer

Is there an actual place called “Hell”? Answer

Why was Hell made? Answer

Is there anyone in Hell today? Answer

Will there literally be a burning fire in Hell? Answer

What should you be willing to do to stay out of Hell? Answer

How can a God of love send anybody to Hell? Answer

What if I don’t believe in Hell? Answer

THE GOOD NEWS—How to be saved from Hell. Answer

How can I be sure of my salvation? Answer

What is “the unpardonable sin”? How does sin become “unforgivable”? Answer

How can I be and feel forgiven? Answer

If God forgives me every time I ask, why do I still feel so guilty? Answer

Burial in the Bible

Familiar spirit

Necromancer

DEMON POSSESSSION and Influence—Can Christians be demon possessed? In what ways can Satan and his demons influence believers? Answer

Featuring: Alison Lohman, Justin Long, Lorna Raver, David Paymer, Dileep Rao, Reggie Lee, Bonnie Aarons, Tony A. Angelo, Joanne Baron, Adriana Barraza, Michael Peter Bolus, Gerry Carbajal, Tom Carey, Flor de Maria Chahua, Ksenia Jarova, Meyoung Laman, Ricardo Molina, Bojana Novakovic, Bill E. Rogers, Fernanda Romero, Chelcie Ross, Jennifer C. Sparks, Octavia Spencer, Alex Veadov, Alexi Wasser
Director: Sam Raimi
Producer: Buckaroo Entertainment, Ghost House Pictures, Mandate Pictures, Grant Curtis, Joshua Donen, Joseph Drake, Nathan Kahane, Sam Raimi, Cristen Carr Strubbe, Robert G. Tapert
Distributor: Universal Pictures

“Christine Brown has a good job, a great boyfriend, and a bright future. But in three days, she’s going to hell.”

“Drag Me to Hell” marks director Sam Raimi’s return to the horror genre; before helming the three blockbuster SPIDER-MAN movies, he was most famous for his EVIL DEAD series of horror films, which had a far-reaching influence on the horror movie genre. Those films were also notoriously gruesome; when it was released in 1980, the first EVIL DEAD picture was given an X rating for its graphic, bloody violence. Now, DRAG ME TO HELL arrives in theaters with a PG-13 rating. Has Raimi gone soft? First, let’s take a look at the plot.

Christine Brown (played by Alison Lohman) is an ambitious young loan officer, who lives with her college professor boyfriend Clay Dalton (played by Justin Long). Christine is successful at her job, but is unsatisfied, constantly begging her boss Mr. Jacks (played by David Paymer) for a promotion. One day, an elderly gypsy woman named Mrs. Ganush (played by Lorna Raver) arrives at Christine’s office, begging her for an extension on her home loan. Christine sees this as a way to prove to her boss that she is capable of making tough decisions, and denies Mrs. Ganush her home loan. Angered and vengeful, Mrs. Ganush places an ancient curse on Christine: for three days, a demon called the Lamia will torment Christine, and on the third day, the Lamia will drag Christine to Hell.

While Raimi may have toned things down from his EVIL DEAD days, the violence in DRAG ME TO HELL is still intense, disturbing and grotesque. The PG-13 rating seems almost too mild at times. Mrs. Ganush and Christine tangle many times; first, in Christine’s car, where Mrs. Ganush attacks Christine from the back seat, choking her and attempting to yank her earring out. Christine fights back by stapling the old woman’s eye shut and crashing the car, slamming Mrs. Ganush’s head against the dashboard so hard that her dentures fly out. Later on, when Mrs. Ganush “dies” of natural causes, she returns as a ghost, allowing the filmmakers even more freedom to batter her and Christine around. The un-dead Mrs. Ganush sticks her arm up to the elbow down Christine’s throat, rips out clumps of Christine’s hair and vomits embalming fluid onto Christine’s face in a truly disgusting scene. Christine once again fights back by dropping an enormous anvil on the ghost’s head, causing eyeballs and goo to fly from Mrs. Ganush’s eye sockets.

Other scenes, while not technically violent, include gross-out content intended to make the viewers queasy. The Lamia induces a fountain-like nosebleed in Christine, who ends up spraying blood all over her boss. Christine, also, finds an eyeball in a piece of cake she is eating. Mrs. Ganush, while still living, is a disgusting character, with filthy saliva-covered dentures which we see many times. She is no more pleasant when dead: her ghost coughs up maggots that find their way into Christine’s mouth.

Sexual content is minimal: Christine and Clay are unmarried but live together, and are once seen lying together (fully clothed) in bed. One scene has Christine in a wet T-shirt. Language includes a few s-words and one G*D, along with a few utterances of “God” and “Jesus”.

This brings us to the spiritual content. The movie’s storyline should give any Christian hesitation; dark spiritual forces are nothing to be taken lightly. Knowing this, I was still a little shocked at some of the spiritual content. Christine, once cursed, consults a medium named Rham Jas (played by Dileep Rao), who advises Christine to sacrifice an animal. Christine follows his advice: she sacrifices her pet cat off-screen, and is later seen burying it in the garden. When that doesn’t work, she attends a séance, and things get even darker: a goat intended for sacrifice is possessed by the Lamia, and speaks to them. Meanwhile, objects fly around, people are possessed and speak in demonic voices, and the body of Christine’s dead cat is vomited up by a person.

It is interesting to note that the movie treats all these demonic occurrences with the levity they deserve. Christine is a good-hearted person, who, after being cursed, honestly tries to do the right thing. The animal sacrifice and séance help nothing, and the movie makes sure we realize that. However, the gospel of Jesus Christ (as one could expect) is never once mentioned as a path to salvation. ***SPOILER WARNING**** Christine ends up never finding deliverance from the curse, and the final scene shows her being “dragged” to Hell by demonic hands. ***END SPOILER****

So, while séances and animal sacrifices are portrayed as being the wrong way to go, because God’s message of salvation is never once presented, whatever moral the movie may contain will only serve to confuse non-believers.

Philippians 4:8 says, “… whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things”. DRAG ME TO HELL, while perhaps not the worst movie currently in theaters, fits none of these criteria. Skip it.

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—As far as content goes, there is one GD, one instance of “Christ” uttered as a blasphemy, and implied sex between two unmarried persons. There is a seance. Lastly, as suggested by the title of the movie, there are numerous accounts of startling or otherwise disturbing imagery (to include a cat being murdered offscreen). Do NOT take kids to this movie. I wanted to wring the woman behind me for taking her four year old boy to this film. When the credits rolled, she had the audacity to ask the little tyke if he was okay. When he failed to respond, she reassured him “it’s all make believe.” That little guy’s gonna have some harrowing dreams for a while—night and day.

Now, a title like this one will preclude many a potential Christian moviegoers. Shame too. Hell is a very real and unforgiving place my friends; these days it’s all but forgotten thanks to its hackneyed use as a mild curse word. And while the Word does mention the earth opening up and swallowing people (as this movie depicts), I sincerely doubt your soul will up and leave, only to check in downstairs within 3 days of being cursed in some foreign tongue. Especially if your name is written in the Book of Life, but I digress.

'Drag Me to Hell' works on its formula of really loud noises, shocking scenes, and shadowy figures. It loses momentum with impish plot devices like the convenient albeit random encounter with the local street psychic vendor (introduced as a means of decoding the curse to the audience). However, it makes up for its weaknesses with the above formula. Mad props has to be given to Alison Lohman for the multiple “mouth to mouth” scenes she had to suffer, none of them pleasant I assure you. If nothing else, Alison Lohman is fair as far as leading ladies go, and the visual fx in the climax are pretty sweet.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Keenum, age 22 (USA)
Positive—DRAG ME TO HELL grabs us from the very beginning of a terrified boy who had stole a necklace from some gypsy. Needless to say, not even the channeler can protect him from the curse that had been cast upon him. This sets up the premise for our innocent Christine Browne (Allison Lohman) who vied for the Assistant Manager position at her bank, and by making the tough decision, her action puts into motion with a curse from the shamed gypsy home owner. From here on, it’s scary-gross-out-fun-thrill-ride-a-minute by Sam Raimi at the helm. While his EVIL DEAD series look dated for me, this was a refreshing at the moment jolt of scare.

This is not for the Christian folds and children, but if you don’t mind a little thrills and chills with disturbing gags, [fair warning] be prepared for some fun scare.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Mang Yang, age 37 (USA)
Positive—Ok…I know that the editors of Christian Spotlight gave this movie a bad review, however I disagree. One thing I will say about this movie is it is not something that anyone should take children to. There is some profanity, but not as much as some movies (I am sure they will hear more than this if they walk out in public), there is couple living together and it is implied that they had sex, but there is no nudity or sexual activity in this movie other than them kissing for about 2 seconds (and that wasn’t really that bad) and then they wake up in the morning. The major problem I see in this movie for children is that it has some very disturbing and shocking scenes. So, if you are a christian and cannot tolerate these type of movies, I would suggest not seeing it. Part of this review process is to determine how this movie will affect our relationship with Christ. I believe every christian should see this film because there are many things in this movie that are real and christians should know about.

First of all, Proverbs 26:2 says: As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come. - There needs to be cause.

Curses are real and witches are real. The devil hates us and he premeditates each day about how he can curse us. Obviously if we are christians and we are walking right with God a curse cannot get us. But the women at the bank was not a christian. Plus, she was not compassionate. She cared more about herself, and her career than the welfare of an old lady… shame on her!

As well as curses are real so are seances…In Samuel the 28th chapter, King Saul seeks a witch to contact Samuel from the dead. It worked, but instead of Samuel, Saul got a familiar spirit or a demon.

People that are not saved will do anything to get rid of a curse, not all of them call upon Jesus, even though they should. Satan blinds them from the truth as well as they love their sin, they don’t want to change.

From what I have heard, the Lamien is an actual demonic spirit, so if this is true, christians should be educated on the demonic realm, because we wrestle not against flesh and blood…

***Spoiler coming*** Biblically however, one thing disturbed me in this film. In the beginning they showed a boy where the lamien demon wants to drag his soul to hell and was successful. Children do not go to hell! They are not responsible for their actions… Jesus said: suffer the little children to come to me, for such is the kingdom of heaven.

Also, I agree with one reviewer that someone should have called upon Jesus in this film…but a sinner made this movie and sinners watch it… So I understand.

So in conclusion, this movie is biblical and christians should go see it to better understand the supernatural and also they could think twice about backsliding or practicing sin. Many of the things in this move have and can happen in real life to backslidden christians and sinners alike…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—BWS, age 35 (USA)
Positive—I think that some of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ have taken this film too literally. The film is obviously not meant to provoke intelligent film discussions. It’s camp. It was meant to be camp. Nothing that you see in the film is meant to be taken seriously. Personally, I found it to be one of the funniest films of the year. Yes, most of the film relies on gross out humor, but anyone who has seen EVIL DEAD or any other of the early Sam Raimi films knows that this is to be expected.

I see lots of complaints about the use of “satanic” imagery in the film. I’m sorry, but if this film offends you with it’s cartoonish images of the dark underworld, then that’s flat out ridiculous. It’s a comedy. I doubt that any sane person could see it as anything other than a fun time at the movies. Films such as GHOSTBUSTERS, BEETLEJUICE, and DEATH BECOMES HER have all taken similar routes. No one complained then. I think most people have a problem with the title of the film, and if that’s the case, it’s a pathetic one. Go see the film for yourself. If you are truly convicted, stay away, but if that’s not the case, don’t avoid it just from what you’ve heard from others. Go see it for yourself, and then form an opinion that you will have earned. Who knows? You may have a good time!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Steven Adam Renkovish, age 26 (USA)
Neutral—I think christians should watch this movie because…
1. It reminds us that there is a real place call “Hell” and although it’s treated for entertainment purposely, the director also treated this place as a place no one want to be at.

2. (spoiler alert) The main character seeks other way to get rid of the curse but didn’t succeed. It would have been a different story if she would have seek Christ. We could learn from her mistake, in life always go to christ first if you have any problems.

3. The movie did show a little bit of the christian faith. Toward the end when she was drowning in the muddy grave, she couldn’t get out on her own(she kept falling back inside), but when a CROSS fell and hit her in the head (as if to tell/remind her of what she really needed to seek), she grab the cross and got out of the muddy grave water. The cross helped her get out of that situation (spoiler alert again) but sadly she didn’t seek the cross when it really counted.

Movie like these( although seems offensive) could be a learning tool for christian and non-christian alike. Seeking mediums and fortune tellers, however true they might know about your life or not, wouldn’t save you. Only Jesus Christ could save you. That’s what I got out of this movie.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—M., age 25 (USA)
Neutral
Neutral—As much as I like a good horror movie and this was a decent one, I can understand why watching movies such as this can be frustrating for Christians. I sat and watched this young woman in the film go through all of these changes to prevent herself from going to Hell, while I and other Christians knew the solution all along. Of course, if the main character would have tried Christ instead all of the occultist mumbo-jumbo, the movie would have been over in 20 minutes….and 20 minute movies don’t make good box office! Some observations:

* Instead of researching through all of these ancient occultist texts to find ways to counteract the gypsy curse and prevent the main character from being Hell-bound, it would have been nice if at least one character in the movie would have remembered an ancient book that is the authority on preventing the “Hell-Bound” condition…it’s called “The Bible”. God’s word….Hello!!! The main characters in the film seemed intelligent enough…but I just found it incredulous that not ONE character in the movie even suggested Jesus Christ or at least a trip to a church as a solution to the cursed young lady. It would seem to me if you don’t want to go to Hell, you need to hook up with the guys on the other side of the equation! You mean this all-American girl raised on a farm had no knowledge of God, the Bible, or even going to church??? I mean, if she was so convinced was about to be dragged into hell by some demon, why not go to the one who is known for casting out demons? Instead, the main characters used satanic influences to battle satanic influence… it made no sense!

* The movie was actually a good allegorical study on how human beings try to “save” themselves by trying everything but God’s word. There was even one animal sacrifice in the film and an attempt at another one. Didn’t anyone in the film know about the one who sacrificed his life 2000 years ago so none of us would have to see Hell? There were times I wish I could have jumped into the movie and shown the main character Romans 10:9. It would have saved her and her boyfriend a lot of trouble, as well as the $10,000 they paid to that mysterious woman with the big house who directed the “séance” And if this mysterious woman was such an expert on battling demons, why didn’t she have Jesus Christ in her arsenal??? On the surface, “Drag Me to Hell” was a good scary movie, but for a Christian, the actions of the characters in the movie made no sense.

* I do have to admit that the old gypsy woman in the film was indeed very creepy….I give the filmmakers points on that one.

However, if there is a lesson to be learned from this movie, it is this: The only way to prevent yourself from being “dragged into Hell” is to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. As demonstrated by the film, your own attempts to “save” yourself will ultimately prove fruitless.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3½
—Jibberjabber, age 37 (USA)
Neutral—“Drag Me to Hell” is a terrific thriller that has real terrors and some amusing(although dark) comic moments. The old gypsy woman is a terrifying presence and a very formidable opponent whether in human, ghost, or corpse form I wouldn’t want to run into her. The film is scary because it is also believable. Alison Lohman is perfectly cast(as much as I like Ellen Page of “Juno” who originally was supposed to play this part I don’t think she would’ve been effective). She radiates goodness, sweetness, is very pretty, and yet is able to project a sharp edge as in a scene where she tells a rude waitress to back off or “she’ll give her a tip she’ll never forget.” We like this character and fear for her when evil forces come for her. Since we care about what will happen to her the evil forces are all the more frightening. The humor comes from some aspects such as the fact that the medium wants to help he is still a businessman who reminds Lohman that help like this is not guaranteed and will cost financially.

The “here kitty, kitty” sequence is darkly humorous and disturbing(as I am a cat person). The violence is more gross-out outrageousness than brutality(although the film stays just this side of its PG-13 rating). I would like to comment on the reviewers criticism that Jesus or the Bible never come into play in this film. The fact that they don’t is in a way very telling. Alison Lohman’s character is very nice. She loves animals. She comes across as very compassionate. But she gives into financial temptation and does something very unkind and well has to pay for it. Instead of seeking help through Jesus and prayer, she goes about it through magic, mediums, and animal sacrifice when she should be calling out to God for help. As a result, although she is sorry for what she did she ends up in hell anyway because she relies on the incorrect means to rid herself of this evil. The measures only seem to be temporarily effective probably because the demons get off on psychologically torturing her.

The message seems to me that without God in our lives we are all doomed no matter how nice we may be. As a horror movie this is probably the best one I’ve seen in years.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Andrew, age 33 (USA)
Negative
Negative—In my opinion, this movie is more of a comedy than a horror flick. Although there are some jumpy scenes. As a Christian, I found the movie not to be appropriate for Christian families to watch.

In the beginning of the movie, a woman tries to pray to God for the expulsion of the demon, which was okay by me, as long as they did not use the name of Jesus. Like most demon possession movies, good never prevails over evil. It always offends me when Satan is the winner, making it seem that our God is not big enough to do the job, so that we have to resort to séances and animal sacrifices.

The story is about a young woman who is a loan officer at a local bank. She is in competition for a promotion and wants to prove to the manager the she is tough enough for the job. An elderly lady walks in begging for an extension on her home loan, and it is up to the young woman if she was going to approve the loan or not. She refuses the extension, so she can look good to her boss. The elderly woman gets very irate and puts a curse on the young woman. And that is how the fight begins, with the young woman being harassed by a demon called Lamia.

The good thing about this movie is that no crosses were involved of calling out to God to fight this demon. There are animal sacrifices, which the young woman is told to do in order to please the demon. It is a horrible, horrible movie. It insults me because these type of movies make satan seem so powerful, they give him so much power over our soul. / Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: None
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 1
—Laura Villegas, age 46 (USA)
Negative—A good friend and I were excited about seeing this movie. I can only attest to the first 10-15 minutes as we decided to leave after viewing the opening scene. I enjoy a good scary movie and am very thick skinned when it comes to being scared, but this movie wasn’t, it was demonic. Movie makers did an incredible job of creating a horrifying experience—that of a child being dragged to hell. The screams and music were far beyond eerie—it was demonic. The witch commented that she’d see them again??? As if a human has the power or authority to challenge any demon or Satan. For non believers, especially teens who like to dabble in the occult, this is very dangerous.

If film makers rely on any sort of abuse, rape, murder of children or present evil as some sort of power and genius as in ('Saw' movies), then they’ve got one less viewer with me. Christians are told to pray, asking for discretion in all areas of our lives. We sat convicted that this was more than a scary movie and we knew we needed to leave. Creativity comes from our Eternal God, He is the master of Creation. How come movie makers can’t take the time and use the creativity God gave them to write a smart, scary and thrilling movie? What God can inspire them to create would be far and above this. I liken God’s idea of us enjoying “the ride” of fear and fun to a roller coaster. It can be big and twisted and incredibly frightening and so much fun. Nothing inappropriate about that but if the riders are told that there’s a mechanical error and send them on down the track, just to up the fear ante, it’s unnecessary.

Be smart in moviemaking and stop relying on pushing the envelope. Sadly their was a young boy (9 or so) in the audience. People can see what they want, all I know is that God convicted both of us to walk out a movie for the first time in my life and I wanted to let people know that. God bless, trust God to let you know and don’t let your kids see this!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Donna, age 41 (USA)
Comments from young people

none

Movie Critics
…an over-the-top, disappointing horror movie about a young woman being harassed by a demonic gypsy curse. It’s hard to take it seriously, but the movie has a very strong occult worldview that gives way too much power to demons.…
—Movieguide
…I’m uncomfortable with satanic themes used as entertainment.…
—Phil Boatwright, Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…Maggots, old-Gypsy-lady drool, embalming fluid gushing out of a corpse’s mouth—Christine’s always getting hit with something in this picture. Lohman can be good, and she can be bad (terrible, in fact, in “Where the Truth Lies”), but in “Drag Me to Hell” she’s just right.…
—Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
…an all-out queasefest from beginning to end.… all-you-can-eat buffet of gross-out violence.…
—Paul Asay, PluggedIn
…various types and echelons of humour can be found throughout “Drag Me to Hell,” although the most prevalent are slapstick and gross bodily functions like projectile nose bleeds. Then again, there’s also plenty of quirk, as in the séance near the end where a softspoken Mexican boy is seen dragging a goat to the table before dimming the lights and attending to other demon-summoning prerequisites.…
—Vanessa Farquharson, National Post
…an unabashedly schlocky, expertly executed blend of jack-in-the-box jolts and humour. More polished but similar in its over-the-top spirit to the Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez “Grindhouse” diptych…
—Liam Lacey, The Globe and Mail
Comments from non-viewers
I have not seen this movie and do not plan to. The entire focus on this movie seems to make light of the reality of demons and going to hell. It’s an extremely serious thing that people die and they go to hell for eternity. I agree that Christians have to live in the world. Even Jesus went and lived and ate among the worst of the sinners. I believe, however, that movies like this do not help our walk with our Savior. I would suggest not to spend your time and money on this movie, but if you do, remember to keep a strong, Christian foundation and do not waver.
—Christopher Johnston, age 22 (USA)
If we are walking in the Spirit of God thinking on those things which are spelled out in Galatians then I would assume this movie is not included. I have not nor will not see it. I have to ask myself do I leave the Holy Spirit inside the church building or does He go with me where ever I go? If I choose to live a life that includes Jesus in everything I do then I cannot be in places where His spirit is offended. Make no mistake He will not coexsist with Satan. Part of the ongoing morale decay in society has a lot to do with Christians compromising the gospel and calling “sin” ok. God has clearly stated that sin whether entertaining or not is grotesque to Him. Stop for a minute and ask God would He like for you to be there. See what He says.
—Bret J. Ward, age 30 (USA)