"Drag Me to Hell" brings humor to the Daily Horror Movie

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For movie buffs, the month of October means one thing: 31 days of horror movies. With tons of horror flicks to choose from, The Daily Texan is going to be providing a daily horror recommendation. Whether you prefer ghosts, zombies or stark explorations of the human condition, we’ll be featuring horror films of all flavors. Check back every evening for the movie of the day. Today, all you have to do is ask Sam Raimi to “Drag Me to Hell.”

When I think of horror movies, I usually don't think “funny.” I imagine myself cowering into the depths of a sofa, my hands covering my eyes as a character walks around a fateful corner. The rush that comes from being genuinely scared while watching such a movie movie is something almost impossible to replicate. But some movies, like 2009’s widely acclaimed “Drag Me to Hell,” add a different dimension to the horror movie experience: humor.

“Drag Me to Hell” follows Christine Brown (Alison Lohman), a bank loan officer hoping to impress her boss enough for a promotion to the coveted position of assistant manager. In order to do this, she has to prove that she’s tough enough to make difficult decisions. The perfect opportunity arises when an elderly gypsy, Mrs. Ganush (Lorna Raver), comes in to ask for an extension on her mortgage payment. Christine, with an eye on her boss, denies the request, even after Ganush falls to her knees and begins to beg. Later, as Christine is leaving for the day, she is attacked by Ganush in the parking garage. Christine is able to fend her off, but not before Ganush takes a button from her jacket and uses it to place a curse on her.

What follows is a series of events that are as unsettling as they are absurd. Christine begins to dream about the old woman and see demonic silhouettes appearing in corners of her home. The next day at work, she gets a nosebleed so extreme she sprays her boss with blood from several feet away. The torment quickly becomes too much for Christine, and she seeks help from a fortune teller who offers a number of techniques to remove the curse looming over her. At one point, she sacrifices her pet cat in an attempt to make amends.

What makes “Drag Me to Hell” so different from most horror films is its awareness of the ridiculousness of just about everything that happens in the genre. It’s got all the ingredients of a textbook scary movie: the attractive, ambitious main character, the ominous shadows that appear beneath the bedroom door, the supernatural problem solver who finds a remedy in a yellowing leatherbound book.

In all of these things, the movie intentionally goes just a bit too far to be taken seriously. The result is a delightful blend of fear and humor that few movies have executed as well as "Drag Me to Hell."