Scene Screams is a recurring column that spotlights the scenes in horror that make us scream, whether or not by means of worry, laughter, or tears. It examines essentially the most memorable, and infrequently scariest, scenes in horror and what it’s about them that makes them get underneath our pores and skin.
Comedy and horror make wonderful bedfellows due to their similarities. Each intention to elicit an excessive, particular response from audiences, and each go about it by means of a build-up and launch. Horror films create pressure then launch it by means of scares, however the build-up and launch of terror are typically most vital within the film’s punchline- its conclusion. A movie’s ending is, in any case, the very last thing the viewer soaks in earlier than the tip credit roll and the expertise is over. All of which to say that Sam Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell successfully nailed its morally gray ending, and it hits simply as arduous at this time because it did upon launch.
Mortgage officer Christine Brown (Alison Lohman) desires a promotion, however her mild-mannered temperament means she’s outperformed by her extra assertive and conniving coworker, Stu Rubin (Reggie Lee). Christine denies the third mortgage extension for the aged Sylvia Ganush (Lorna Raver) regardless of pleas and begging to show she has what it takes to land the coveted place. When Christine leaves work for the day, Sylvia corners her within the parking storage, assaults her, then curses her after snatching a button from her coat. That curse dooms Christine to a few days of accelerating supernatural torture by a Lamia and can finish when she’s dragged to Hell.
Regardless of the movie’s title, the viewer spends the film with Christine ready for her to lastly uncover how you can break the curse and keep away from a nasty destiny. Because the hauntings start to plague Christine, she wastes little time making an attempt to interrupt her curse. She makes an attempt to apologize to Sylvia, solely to seek out the lady lifeless. Christine seeks out assist from a fortune teller Rham Jas (Dileep Rao), for solutions. By means of his recommendation and her desperation, Christine winds up providing her kitten as a sacrifice to the Lamia, attending a séance that claims the lifetime of medium San Dena (Adriana Barraza), and the ultimate try to provide her curse away by handing off that button to a brand new sufferer. She ponders giving it to the vile Stu however as an alternative digs up Sylvia’s grave to provide again the cursed button.
Daybreak brings a sunnier disposition for Christine. She receives information that she acquired the promotion after Stu was fired, and she or he’s about to embark on a romantic journey with boyfriend Clay (Justin Lengthy) that can finish in a wedding proposal. It’s the exact kind of completely satisfied ending audiences have been conditioned to anticipate; Christine could have made some egregiously egocentric missteps alongside the way in which, however she is the heroine on this story.
Then Clay pulls out the envelope containing the cursed button, and Christine recoils in dawning worry. She falls backward onto the prepare tracks as a prepare rolls towards the station. It’s then that the protagonist will get ruthlessly dragged into Hell whereas Clay seems to be on in abject horror. Reduce to the title card to drive dwelling that Raimi made good on the movie’s title.
It’s the exact kind of stunning ending that followers nonetheless debate about over a decade later; did Christine deserve her destiny? Raimi deliberately spends a lot of Christine’s story presenting a personality inclined to creating poor selections out of self-preservation, pre and publish curse. However her flaws steadiness out with extra likable traits and decisions, too. She’s humanized extra by means of her relationship with Clay, the choice to in the end not doom Stu even when he’s reprehensible, and she or he fesses as much as the ache she inflicted upon Sylvia. Christine deserves punishment for the kitten and dooming Sylvia’s dwelling, however maybe to not the extent of a Lamia dragging her to Hell to feast on her soul.
However that’s debatable, which contributes to the ending’s enduring high quality. The opposite components that make this so potent are misdirection and abruptness. The horrifying imagery of Christine screaming for assist as a prepare steamrolls on above her, fingers pulling her down into the fiery pits as her flesh melts off sticks with you. It’s made much more efficient as a result of it comes as a sudden tonal shift to the cheery, fortunately ever after vibe that got here simply moments earlier than.
Christine’s last encounter with Sylvia’s corpse gave a way of climactic finality, and the next scene marked the beginning of a brand new chapter for Christine. It gave viewers a way of closure; the protagonist defeated her antagonist and got here away from her confrontation stuffed with hope and honesty. It makes the timing of her doom downright merciless.
Horror continuously paints a transparent image between good and evil, but Drag Me to Hell blurs the strains. Even nonetheless, that last rug pull evokes such an sudden, visceral response. It’s as a lot to do with Christine as a flawed protagonist as it’s in the way in which Raimi buildings this story. Raimi is a grasp of horror-comedy and is aware of how you can ship a dramatic horror punchline that sticks with you years later.