Peril on the Screen: Drag Me to Hell

One of the RIP challenges is “Peril on the Screen,” for those who also like to watch suitably scary, eerie, mysterious gothic fare during this time of year. The movie that I chose for Peril on the Screen is Drag Me to Hell. (Actually, I didn’t choose it so much as the household Keeper of NetFlix did, but that’s hardly the point.)

As Drag me to Hell has been out for a while now (over a year,) I’ll assume that those of you who have been dying to see it have seen it already, and I won’t hold back with the spoilers.

Still reading? Oh, fantastic. Well, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this movie. I suppose that I was expecting either your typical “teenagers stumble upon isolated woodland cabin full of rotting corpses,” or perhaps a grim and dark “descent into madness.” Well, it wasn’t either of those. I’d categorize it as more of a “supernatural mystery” and “see also: Possession, Hauntings.”

I really have only two points to make about this movie, but since neither of them will make much sense without my telling you the story, I’m going to go ahead and do that first.

So there’s this girl, Christine, who works at a bank. Although she’s a loan officer, she collects any rare coins she finds for her fiancé, Clay. She and her rival, Stu, (who takes every chance he can to undermine and backstab her) both covet the vacant Assistant Manager’s position. Her boss offers her some advice, which is basically “try being more evil.”

Soon, a poor old woman comes to the bank to beg for an extension on her mortgage payments. The girl sees an opportunity for evil and chooses to foreclose upon the old woman and eject her from the bank. Her boss is suitably impressed and congratulates her.

The old woman is not as impressed, and ambushes the girl in the parking lot. It turns out that the old woman is a witch, and she has just cursed Christine to be taken to hell by a demon in three days. To be specific, the witch has cursed a button from the girl’s raincoat, but neither this detail nor the actual curse are obvious to the girl.

Well, she HAS got a wart...
She HAS got a wart...

After a series of unsettling events over the next day, the girl decides to apologize to the witch, only to learn that she’s too late: the witch is dead. The girl visits a fortune teller, who explains the curse and suggests the girl try appeasing the demon with an animal sacrifice.

Though Christine is initially disgusted by the idea, another unsettling series of events leads her to sacrifice her kitten. The sacrifice was apparently insufficient, as a series of hallucinations plague the girl during a dinner with her fiancé and in-laws-to-be.

The girl returns to her fortuneteller, who introduces her to a powerful psychic who might be able to break the curse. The psychic, who has encountered the demon before, has a plan to destroy it. They will trap it in the body of a goat, which Christine will then kill. That night, a séance is held. The demon arrives and mocks the girl’s kitten sacrifice. The girl hesitates to kill the goat, and the demon escapes to possess others at the table.

Possessed... by the spirit of BOOGIE
Possessed... by the spirit of BOOGIE

The psychic only drives the demon away at the cost of her own life. Now the fortuneteller tells the girl that her only chance to survive is to offer the cursed button to someone else, who must accept it. The girl’s fiancé arrives to drive her home, and at this point an accidental switcheroo happens: a button for a rare coin.

The girl goes to an all night diner to select a victim, but after agonizing over the decision, she calls her bank rival over in order to transfer the curse to him. But she changes her mind at the last moment and sends him away. She decides that the only person deserving of the curse is the witch herself, and heads over to the graveyard to dispose of the button.

The next morning, Christine meets her fiancé at the train station, wearing a brand new coat. Clay asks what happened to her old coat, because he found the missing button in the car. No sooner does he say this than does the ground beneath the girl’s feet part, swallowing her into a firey inferno, before sealing up again.

Oops
Oops

Phew. Now, what I found interesting about this movie was the moral of the story. Now, I warn you that I may have totally misinterpreted it. Anyway, I recall one of Miyagi’s lines from The Karate Kid.

Walk on road, hm? Walk left side, safe. Walk right side, safe. Walk middle, sooner or later
get squish just like grape. Here, karate, same thing. Either you karate do “yes” or karate do “no.” You karate do “guess so,” [squish] just like grape. Understand?

So the moral of this movie is, should one choose Evil, one should become completely evil, not “guess so” evil. Had Christine not hesitated in killing the goat, or had she killed one of of the possessed at the séance, or had she tipped the waitress with the button (if she hadn’t lost it), or had she made Stu accept the button (again, if she hadn’t lost it), or had she said to Clay, “you keep it,” she’d have evaded the curse. (Assuming, of course, that the fortuneteller wasn’t making things up when he told the girl that the curse could be transfered.)

Hang on, maybe the moral is just that Good Is Dumb.

On to my second point. I almost hate to admit this, but I’d like to see a sequel to this movie. Or rather, I’d like Drag me to Hell to serve as a prequel to a movie in which Justin Long plays a tormented investigator of the paranormal.

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4 thoughts on “Peril on the Screen: Drag Me to Hell”

  1. I remember seeing the trailers for this and thinking it seemed very B-Movie. Maybe I will have to reconsider. Its nearly Halloween, which is primo horror movie season.

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