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The Need for Postmenopausal Hormone Therapy

Movie Title: Drag Me to Hell (2009)
Spoilers: No

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To some of us, it’s a sad truth that mankind has not outgrown his craving for belief in the supernatural. This craving very often spills over into our choice of movies. Movies with supernatural themes can be big hits or otherwise held in high regard just because of their supernatural element. You have The Exorcist and Amityville Horror, both revered horror series’. And in another category, there’s the 1990 film Ghost, starring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore.

When I saw Ghost in theatres as a young man, there wasn’t a dry set of eyes in the house, and that included my own. Everyone was so touched to see two lovers separated by the throws of death. But I remember something else that stuck with me and never went away—the terror I felt in watching two men dragged to Hell by those poorly drawn, groaning, black demons that grabbed onto them and took them to Hell for the lives of wickedness they lived. It was scary, terrifying even. Ghost was an excellent film.

Drag Me to Hell was not such an excellent film, and unlike Ghost that made inroads towards seeing people taken to Hell seem a touch more justified, this one doesn’t. It is a disgusting and visionless sadist’s thriller with the balls to build an entire movie with the primary intent being to portray suffering.

In Drag Me to Hell, young children who steal from gypsies go to hell, as do women who exercise their rights to foreclose on an old woman’s home as done within banking guidelines. The lesson here seems to be: there are a lot of inexplicably unforgiving old women out there who will curse you for damn near anything. Piss one off and you can be sent spiraling to Hell to burn for all eternity!

A bright and young “Christine Brown” (Alison Lohman) has a job as a loan officer at a bank. She has “a keeper” of a boyfriend “Clay Dalton” (Justin Long) and a cat she loves. She’s a good person until she rubs wrong “Mrs. Ganush” (Lorna Raver), an old woman who has down the handy art of putting curses on people that she feels have shamed her.

The entire movie is about how one innocent young woman, with a full life ahead of her, is forced to deal with a terrible curse as it makes her existence miserable and unlivable. Thanks to psychic “Rham Jas” (Dileep Roa), poor Christine has the added misery of knowing that in three days, if she doesn’t find a way to rid herself of the curse, she’s going to split Hell wide open.

She never shed blood or carried out ethic genocide. She didn’t violate any “moral law” or speak ill of a deity. But in Drag Me to Hell’s dark universe, you don’t need to do any of that to lose your soul. The sick deity that created a Heaven for his good kids and a Hell for his bad kids has no problem giving the keys to the realm of the damned to crotchety old women who obviously struggle with postmenopausal rage.

Forget God. Forget Jesus. Forget the Holy Spirit. Forget the Church. Forget purgatory and being bailed out of Hell by a priest or the prayers of the saints. Not a single reference to apostolic powers or “white magic” is ever made. At no time did she go to a local house of worship to have the powers of darkness vanquished like we are told Jesus can do. She didn’t even try.

Christine, eager for promotion at her place of employment, is successful and intelligent, but she will seek out an Indian psychic who believes in a really big goat demon who takes souls (assumedly at the bidding of Satan himself), but not a Christian priest. I found that omission way too odd.

Those who believe that God (any version of him/her/it) would torture his children, wayward or not, is unthinkable to me. But given the premise of the film, I wonder if a gypsy or a group of gypsies could curse the world or an entire race if they can curse to Hell individuals? Would it not have been done already if it were possible in this horrible universe? Could you, say, curse everyone with red hair? Could you collect DNA shared by the entire human race and curse us all?

And in this superstitious, unforgiving, menacingly dark universe of vengeful old women, who no doubt issued more eternal damnation curses than hairs on their heads, would there not be a chant or ritual or some “reverse curse” we would expect to find? Surely there was a need for one. Reason demands that there would be, but then, reason is not the faculty called upon to make or to enjoy horror movies.

To its credit, I was compelled to watch. So-so acting and soft slams against the bizarreness of older horror flicks is a continual presence, right along with these curses and mouthy old women, who, incidentally, love to come back from the grave and chew on the chins and stick their arms down the throats of the women they curse. This marriage of horror and hilarity was clever, but I didn’t find it funny. Horror and humor should never crawl into the same bed.

(JH)

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Grade: C- (2 stars)
Rated: PG-13
Summation: A loan officer ordered to evict an old woman from her home finds herself the recipient of a supernatural curse.
Director: Sam Raimi
Starring: Alison Lohman “Christine Brown,” Justin Long “Clay Dalton,” Lorna Raver “Mrs. Ganush,” Dileep Rao “Rham Jas,” David Paymer “Mr. Jacks”
Genre: Horror

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