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Scare tactics

Drag Me To Hell
15, Nationwide

3 June 2009

12:00 AM

3 June 2009

12:00 AM

Drag Me To Hell
15, Nationwide

Although there is much I don’t understand about people generally — why do some take so long at the cashpoint, for example? What are they doing? — one of the main things I don’t understand is why anyone enjoys horror films. The last time I actually saw one at the cinema it must have been when I was 13 and bunked into the Golders Green Odeon to see The Exorcist and, even now, I’m still pretty sure the devil is coming to possess me. He’s taken his time, I admit, but who knows what else he has had on his plate? The fact is, I’m easily spooked, and so absurdly squeamish that, when I nicked my finger while chopping a tomato the other day, I passed right out on the kitchen floor. OK, I wasn’t out for long, but only because I couldn’t afford to be. If the devil is after you, it’s generally best to keep on the move.


Still, after a 35-year break, I did think I might give horror movies another go, although, for the life of me, I can’t see why I thought that now. I may just be seriously nuts.

Drag Me To Hell is directed by Sam Raimi, who first made his name with The Evil Dead, apparently, and then went on to direct the Spiderman franchise and I think you might call this a ’supernatural curse’ movie. Would you? I’ve no idea, really, but that’s what I’m plumping for all the same. Whatever, it all kicks off when sweet loans officer Christine (Alison Lohman) refuses to grant another home loan extension to Mrs Ganush (Lorna Raver). Bad call, Christine; bad call.

Mrs Ganush has one staring false eye, rotting teeth, brown, gnarled fingernails and when she coughs she coughs out great gloops of phlegm. I’m thinking Mrs Ganush never went to Lucie Clayton or similar, but it is only a guess. Certainly, she doesn’t take the refusal well and, faced with eviction, damns Christine with the curse of Lamia, who turns out to be some kind of terrifying, demonic goat determined to drag Christine to, yes, hell. No surprises there. Where did you expect him to drag her to? Brent Cross? (I wouldn’t mind that. I always feel safe in Brent Cross, most particularly at the John Lewis end.)

Now, here is what, at various times, I saw through my fingers, or when my eyes were actually open: pots and pans clanking on their own; the wind portentously rustling leaves which only Christine can see; projectile nosebleeds; oral and nasal invasion by flies; Christine being catapulted by poltergeists; the shadow of Lamia appearing beneath Christine’s door, and Christine turning over in bed and finding not her boyfriend beside her, but Mrs Ganush, who proceeds to vomit maggots. Did I jump out of my seat at that? I did. Was I having fun? My dears, I was not. I was simply longing — longing! — for it all to be over.

Look, I don’t blame the film. I blame only myself. I would even say that if I liked this kind of film I would almost certainly like this one. It has a knowing, B-movie, schlock sensibility, pushes all the right, diabolical buttons and is also quite funny. But the fact is, I didn’t like this kind of film 35 years ago and I still don’t like this kind of film now. At this rate, though, at least I don’t have to see another one until I am 82, by which time the devil might have got me anyway. He’s a devil, that devil, and could come at any time. I will also be looking quite closely at goats.


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