The plot focuses on loan officer Christine Brown (Alison Lohman), who tries to impress her boss by refusing to extend a loan to a gypsy woman by the name of Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver). In retaliation, Ganush places a curse on Christine that, after three days of escalating torment, will plunge her into the depths of Hell to burn for eternity.
Raimi wrote Drag Me to Hell with his brother, Ivan, prior to working on the Spider-Man films. The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and was released to wide critical acclaim. It was also a box office success, making $90.8 million worldwide on a $30 million budget.
Drag Me to Hell won the award for Best Horror Film at the 2009 Scream Awards and the 2010 Saturn Awards.
In 1969 in Pasadena, California, a couple seeks the aid of the medium Shaun San Dena (Flor de Maria Chahua) because their son claims to see and hear monsters. San Dena aids the family by carrying out a séance, but they are attacked by an unseen force that pulls the boy into Hell. Shaun informs the force that they will meet again.
In 2009 in Los Angeles, California, bank loan officer Christine Brown hopes to be promoted to assistant manager over her co-worker Stu Rubin (Reggie Lee). Her boss, Jim Jacks, advises her to demonstrate that she can make tough decisions to get a promotion. Christine is visited by an elderly woman, Sylvia Ganush, who asks for an extension on her mortgage payment. Christine decides to deny Ganush an extension to prove herself to her boss. He compliments Christine on how she handled the situation.
In the bank parking garage, Ganush attacks Christine in her car. After a violent struggle, she removes a button from Christine's coat and uses it to place a curse on her. Later, Christine and her boyfriend Clay Dalton meet the fortune teller Rham Jas, who tells Christine that she is being haunted by a spirit. At her home, Christine is attacked by the spirit and has nightmares about Ganush. At work the next day, Christine snaps at one of her co-workers and has a projectile nosebleed that soaks her boss in blood. Christine then goes to talk to Ganush at her granddaughter's home, only to find that she died the previous night and a memorial service is being held. Christine returns to Rham Jas, who explains that she is being haunted by a powerful demon called the Lamia that will torment her for three days before taking her to Hell. He suggests a sacrifice to appease the demon. The next day, the Lamia returns and thrashes Christine around her bedroom. Desperate to stop the attacks, Christine sacrifices her pet kitten. At a dinner party with Clay and his parents, she is again tormented by the Lamia, which frightens the Daltons.
Christine returns to Rham Jas for further help. He says that Shaun San Dena will risk her life to stop the demon for a fee of $10,000. Further supernatural attacks on Christine lead Clay to pay the fee. San Dena prepares a séance to trap the Lamia's spirit in a goat and kill it to vanquish the spirit. San Dena allows the Lamia to inhabit her body. Rham Jas tries to persuade it not to steal Christine's soul, but it refuses and vows never to stop until Christine dies. Christine then places San Dena's hand on the goat, causing the spirit to enter its body. San Dena's assistant, Milos, attempts to kill the goat, but is instead bitten by the goat and in turn becomes possessed, attacking the members of the séance. San Dena banishes the Lamia from the séance, but dies in the process. Rham Jas seals the cursed button in an envelope and then tells her that the only way to get rid of the curse is to give the accursed item to someone as a gift, thereby passing the curse on to that person.
After being driven home by Clay, Christine attempts to find a recipient for the curse. She decides to give the envelope to Stu, in revenge for his stealing her work and presenting it as his own, but changes her mind. With guidance from Rham Jas, Christine learns that she can give it to Ganush, even though she is dead. Christine drives to the cemetery where she is buried and digs up her grave. In a torrential downpour, Christine jams the envelope in Ganush's mouth.
The next day, Christine goes to meet Clay at Los Angeles Union Station, from where they plan to depart for a weekend in Santa Barbara. Clay, planning to propose, reveals to Christine that he found the envelope containing the cursed button in his car. Christine then realizes she mixed up her envelope with another that she gave to Clay when she accidentally dropped it. Horrified, Christine walks backward and falls onto the tracks. As a train barrels towards her, fiery hands burst from the ground under the tracks. Clay can only watch in horror as Christine is dragged down into Hell for eternity.
- Alison Lohman as Christine Brown: A young mild-mannered bank employee who desires the position of assistant manager. After turning down Sylvia Ganush's request for a third extension on her mortgage, she is cursed by her and attacked by a demon called the Lamia.
- Justin Long as Professor Clayton "Clay" Dalton: Christine's boyfriend who is a college professor born to a wealthy family. Clayton is skeptical about Rham Jas's help and the existence of the demon.
- Lorna Raver as Mrs. Sylvia Ganush: An elderly woman who attacks Christine Brown and places a curse on her. Ganush dies the day after the attack, but her spirit constantly haunts Christine throughout the film.
- David Paymer as Mr. Jim Jacks: Christine's concerned boss who is considering whether Christine or Stu Rubin deserves the job of assistant manager at the bank.
- Dileep Rao as Rham Jas: A young psychic who informs Christine that she is cursed. Rham Jas later introduces Christine to Shaun San Dena who has a seance with her.
- Reggie Lee as Stu Rubin: Stu Rubin is an employee of the bank Christine works at. Stu tries to make Christine look bad at work in order to get the promotion.
- Adriana Barraza as Shaun San Dena: A psychic who has a seance to draw out the Lamia to kill it for Christine. In the first scene set years in the past, Shaun San Dena is portrayed by Flor de Maria Chahua.
- Chelcie Ross as Leonard Dalton: Clayton's father who does not approve of Clayton dating Christine.
- Molly Cheek as Trudy Dalton: Clayton's mother who also does not approve of Clayton dating Christine due to her peasant origin and bizarre behavior (which was caused by the Lamia).
- Bojana Novakovic as Ilenka Ganush: Sylvia Ganush's cynical granddaughter. She lets Christine into her home when she asks to meet the elderly Ganush.
- Art Kimbro as the voice of the Lamia: A powerful demon that is summoned after Ganush curses Christine. Its task is to torment Christine for three days before literally dragging her into Hell to burn for eternity.
The original story for Drag Me to Hell was written ten years before the film went into production and was written by Sam Raimi and his brother Ivan Raimi. The film went into production under the name The Curse. Sam and Ivan Raimi wrote the script as a morality tale, desiring to write a story about a character who wants to be a good person, but makes a sinful choice out of greed for her own betterment and pays the price for it. Sam and Ivan tried to make the character of Christine the main focal point in the film, and tried to have Christine in almost all the scenes in the film. Elements of the film's story are drawn from the British horror film Night of the Demon such as the similar-shaped demons and the three day curse theme in the film. The most significant parallel is that both stories involve the passing of a cursed object, which has to be passed to someone else, or its possessor will be devoured by one or more demons. Raimi wanted the film to be, unlike his past horror films, rated PG-13 and not strictly driven by gore, stating, "I didn't want to do exactly the same thing I had done before."
After finishing the script, Raimi desired to make the picture after the first draft of the script was completed, but other projects such as the Spider-Man film series became a nearly decade-long endeavor, pushing opportunities to continue work on Drag Me to Hell to late 2007. After the previous three Spider-man films, Raimi came back to the script of Drag Me to Hell, wanting to make a simpler and lower-budget film. In 2007, Sam Raimi's friend and producer Rob Tapert of Ghost House Pictures had the company sign on to finance the film. Universal Studios agreed to distribute domestically.
The effects in Drag Me to Hell were created in many different ways, including green screen, puppets, prosthetics and computer-generated imagery. Bruce Jones was the Visual Effects Supervisor on the film. Of Jones, Raimi commented, "He brought a great can-do approach to the film... He’s got a great team of artists and technicians with him, and he’s got great instincts.”
There were hundreds of visual effects in the film, and different effects houses were utilized. According to Raimi, the Bay Area's Tippett Studio was a big player. "We also had work done by Amalgamated Pixels, Ghost VFX, KNB Effects, Home Digital, Cinesoup and IE Effects," said Raimi. According to Raimi, “Bob (Murawski) and I kept adding visual effects as post proceeded. In this film, the supernatural, the unseen, is almost another character, so sequences were developed — even in post — that would suggest the presence of the supernatural, and we kept on adding. The same with the sound effects, so it was a very ongoing, very live process in post."
Director of Photography, Peter Deming tried to use realistic lighting in the film. Said Deming, "Normally, you'd put all corrected bulbs in, but we went with what was there, including the shots in the street. We used the streetlight look and mixed that with interior lighting. There were a lot of odd color sources that we chose to leave the way they would be naturally. It’s a heightened sense of realism."One of the earliest projects the special effects teams did was the scene in which Mrs. Ganush attacks Christine in her car. To film the action, which included close-ups of Christine jamming her foot on the pedal, hitting the brake, and shifting gears, the team created a puzzle car which allowed the front engine compartment and back trunk — as well as all four sides and doors — to come away from the car. The roof came off in two directions.
- Scream 2009
- Winner: Best Horror Movie
- Winner: Best Scream-Play
- Nominated: Ultimate Scream
- Nominated: Best Horror Actress (Allison Lohman)
- Nominated: Best Horror Actor (Justin Long)
- Nominated: Best Director (Sam Raimi)
- Nominated: Best F/X
- Nominated: Best Villain (Lorna Raver)
- Nominated: Most Memorable Mutilation (The Eyeball Cake)
- Nominated: Fight Scene of the Year (The Car Fight)
- Nominated: Holy Sh!t Scene of the Year (The Séance)
- Drag Me to Hell at the Internet Movie Database
- Drag Me to Hell at AllMovie
- Drag Me to Hell at Rotten Tomatoes
- Drag Me to Hell at Wikipedia
- Drag Me to Hell at Horror on Screen
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