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Parental Alienation

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It’s also timely, its bloodbath born of economic desperation. Really, if the decrepit Gypsy woman (the aptly named Lorna Raver) carried health insurance, she wouldn’t need to borrow from her mortgage money to pay for her protruding milky glass eye—and our good-hearted loan-officer heroine, Christine (Alison Lohman), wouldn’t find herself under pressure from her boss to deny the old bat an extension. Much screaming, clawing, and emission of bodily fluids later, Christine winds up with a hellacious curse on her head, a casualty of capitalism. Lohman has the look of a bedraggled B-movie blonde but a tremulous soul all her own. Even if she works for a bank, she hardly deserves damnation.

Raimi launched his career with gory, goofy shriek shows like The Evil Dead before graduating to more conventional thrillers and Spider-Man. Welcome back to the grindhouse, Sam! In Drag Me to Hell, he proves he’s a master comic-book director—and I don’t mean a pretentious graphic-novel stylist like Zack Snyder of Watchmen. Raimi’s frames have the hyperbolic punch of the best panels, with a kick to every cut—his montages are maniacal. Above you, below you, beside you, and from inside your head comes moaning, hissing, screaming, and the gnashing of demon jaws: Séances in surround-sound kill. Truly, this is manna from hell.

Away We Go
Directed by Sam Mendes.
Focus Features. R.

Séraphine
Directed by Martin Provost.
Music Box Films. NR.

Drag Me to Hell
Directed by Sam Raimi.
Universal Pictures. PG-13.

E-mail: filmcritic@newyorkmag.com.


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