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Cinema Signal: Not quite a green light but has elements of strong appeal for a limited audience.

Sing Like an American Idol, Women's Edition
Everything You Need to Sing the Hits!

(Discounted Paperback (with CD) from Amazon)
. "Drag Me To Hell"

I don't know what your reason will be to see something with a title like this but it may have something to do with the guy who made a name for himself in horror flicks ("Evil Dead franchise") before he jumped into the big ring with the "Spider-Man" series ("4" on the way). One Sam Raimi. For me, though, the draw was Alison Lohman ("Things We Lost in the Fire") who, here, gets a splendid chance to explore her fright and flight repertoire. A sweety to begin with, she doesn't disappoint.

She plays bright bank loan officer Christine Brown who is up for promotion to assistant to Mr. Jacks (David Paymer). She can think of little else as she vies for the position with only one competitor, new guy Reggie Lee (Stu Rubin). But one of these guys is enough. He's so unscrupulous he demeans her in front of Jacks, polishes Jack's apple like some twelfth grader trying to get an "A," and thinks nothing of stealing Christine's work on a big potential client. Scum, this guy.

Meanwhile, her guy Clay Dalton (Justin Long, "He's Just Not That Into You"), her ex-college prof, is solid. He'll support her in anything including bringing her home to meet his rich and snooty parents (from "Hell"). Mom is giving him a hard time about meeting someone on his "station" but abandoning Christine is out of the question, which endears him to us, especially because he's going to go through some pretty agonizing tests when she starts to have visions of things attacking her.

This all starts one day at the office when she's unfortunate enough to be the loan officer that horror lady Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver) goes to for a third extension of her loan because she's about to be evicted.

Trying to do the right thing for the business, Christine is brave enough to deny the extension on the basis that the Hungarian crone's already had two. To say the old woman with crossed eyes and pointy teeth goes postal would be an understatement because she adds the premium of a curse, and it's a doozy. Christine's soul is now burdened with the curse of the Lamia, which won't be ended until the unleashed monster... well, drags our heroine to hell.

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Talking about torture (as we have been doing in 2009), poor Christine now sees visions of evil and tele-kinetic destruction of her home, one room at a time. She drags Clay into it, trying to convince him that it's all for real. Doubt prevails for a while as he accompanies her to a reading with self-described seer Rham Jas (Dileep Rao) and thence to a seance with the grand mama of spiritualists, Shaun San Dena (Adriana Barraza, "Babel").

It's a trip and a half as our lady gets so into it she thinks little of digging up a grave in the dead of night under flood conditions! But, that's Sam Raimi for you, along with all the pro supporting elements and brother Ivan to serve on writing duties to immerse you into the girl's nightmare, a harvest of humor and the blast furnace that could be the necessary gateway to a warm afterlife.

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                                      ~~  Jules Brenner  

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Alison Lohman and Lorna Raver as a loan officer and a hellraiser.
She shoulda' give her the loan.

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