Snobbery is a difficult game. It’s much like ‘the game’ played out in the Wire, the superlative TV series about a police department struggling to overcome a drugs gang in Baltimore, Maryland. If you’re a music snob, you’re nice to the tax-payer (someone who likes music in itself, will listen to anything, without putting themselves on a pedestal because they like something) but if some m*****f***** steps to you telling you that Glasvegas’ debut record was superior to say Deerhunters’, then you pop that foo’. In this case, ‘pop’ means to either walk away from the antagonist or scythe them down with a pistol-esque glare (slowly, all night, every time they speak).
What about film snobbery? That shit ain’t easy. And in the case of Sam Raimi’s Drag Me to Hell it’s impossible. This movie is for anyone who goes to the cinema because they love the experience, sitting amidst strangers for an hour or two, whilst having their face ripped off by intense surround sound. Sarah Wharton is resident Horror-critic here, but for this layman of the genre it’s a nice place to start. What’s most attractive about this disgusting, loud movie is its wonderful sense of humour. All the scares are executed (loudly) with an appreciation of their stupidity. And at this particular screening each screech was followed with a chorus of laughter.
Stereotypes are abound here, a blonde damsel in distress battling a gypsy pensioner with the devil’s curse upon her. But blondie – Alison Lohman as Christine Brown, Drag Me to Hell’s battered protagonist – is made of steel, and this loans clerk (pining after the vacant Assistant Manager’s desk) takes something of a constant beating. This hiding is the product of a curse put upon her coat button by Lorna Raver (Mrs. Ganush). This after Christine reluctantly declines Mrs. Ganush a third extension on a mortgage loan that’s allowing her to keep her home. Christine’s attempts to impress her boss by standing up to Mrs. Ganush’s plea backfires, so cue a quite extraordinary 5pm brawl in Christine’s car between herself and a satanic Mrs. Ganush.
These mini-battles are numerous, and the appearance of a man-goat’s shadow at windows and beneath doorways is a constant fixture of poor Christine’s downtime. You sense Raimi hinting at suburban fears of breaking and entering, but also of racial boundaries, the horrors of Eastern European mystics (a more sinister, subverted fear of Slavs perhaps). Any film that has a billy-goat possessed at a seance and screaming ‘You fucking whore!’ has to be good. Even better in the way that Raimi carries the amusement of it all. If only hell was this much fun!
And for any deplorable elements of this movie (if taken seriously, which really it shouldn’t be) there’s a guilt-edged point about consumerism at the film’s close. Catherine sells all her electrical goods, her jewellery, attempting to raise cash for the goat-swearing seance to come. It looks like things might be ok for this girl, investing in something spiritual – rather than egotistical like a promotion at someone else’s expense – but damn girl just can’t help huh-self. Perhaps the moral of the story is that if you walk all over the little guys, the phlegmy old ladies, there’s a foul-mouthed CGI goat ready and waiting to barrage you for eternity. This film snob just took note.