Drag Me to Hell -- But Don’t Pick on That Guy Because, Hey, He’s Cool
Ay, Dios. There are probably a dozen things I could say about the new Sam Raimi movie Drag Me to Hell
. And if you haven’t seen it yet, you might want to skip the rest of this post right now and come back after you’ve seen it. It’s a very good movie, I assure you, and I suspect it will be a very popular rental around Halloween. Besides, if you continue, you’ll come across some potentially spoilerific plot details which would be best viewed by people who have already seen the movie.
Anyway, there are some disturbing elements in this movie that deserve discussion. And if I had to pick the most disturbing aspect of the movie, it would be this: The way it continually hints that the one thing that assures the movie’s doomed protagonist a fate worse than death is not her ruthlessness -- but her lack of it.
Stop and think about it.
The whole movie revolved around a poor farm girl named Christine Brown (played by Alison Lohman) trying to make it in the banking industry who one day failed to grant a loan extension to the wrong person -- an old gypsy lady -- and promptly became the victim of a gypsy curse. The curse involved a demon called the Lamia -- odd name for a Romany entity, but I digress -- which would take poor Christine to Hell within a few days if it was not defeated or appeased.
Christine hired an exorcist to defeat the demon but the exorcism ultimately failed. So she was faced with the choice of either embracing his hellish fate -- or else evading it by passing the paper on which the curse is written to another person and making it an official gift, a process which would ensure that the recipient of the cursed paper--and not Christine -- would receive the demon’s punishment.
Interestingly enough, Christine was next presented with not one but two opportunities to pass on the paper. One when she was talking to her boyfriend -- a guy who admitted to being willing to do anything for her. And two when she talked to a rival bank clerk who had been undermining her. A man who was perhaps even more worthy of punishment than Christine but ultimately spared by Christine’s own conscience.
Now it could be argued that fate saw to it that Christine never could have passed on the cursed gypsy paper even if she had wanted to. But up until the shock ending occurred, poor Christine didn’t know that. All she knew was that her giving away the cursed paper would save her -- and condemn its recipient to Hell. The fact that she tried to give it away anyway didn’t make her a nice person, of course. But the fact that she ultimately chose not to do so to her worst enemy did. As did the fact that she didn't even try to talk her loyal boyfriend -- the one who would have done anything for her -- into taking it.
Or did it?
Director Sam Raimi never settled the question of whether or not Christine’s character was a good or bad person (though he did give us abundant evidence to support either interpretation) -- and all we ultimately have to go by in judging her are her actions.
Nor does it help that the dice was ultimately weighed against Christine by the fact that she is given little choice but to commit evil acts if she is to survive. The demon cared little about Christine’s desire to make amends and indeed, made even her most evil attempt to save herself -- apart from the paper giving, of course -- seem futile.
Plus there is the fact that Christine was a small fry where she worked. It was unlikely that she was the first person in that bank to turn down a loan extension to a sympathetic person and indeed, her sin seemed minor compared to the type of sins that have been making financial headlines as of late. It could be argued that she nevertheless knew better -- but still the movie appears to be asking us to condone a system of supernatural justice in which a person who commits the financial equivalent of jaywalking ends up losing her life -- while people with far worse crimes on their conscience get off scot-free.
I suppose it comes down to who you know and who you don’t know. Which might have been Ms. Brown’s trouble all along. It was established early on in the movie that she was an outsider -- a country girl still in the process of adjusting to the big city who was still insecure about many things, including her chances for promotion and her current status as a rich man’s girlfriend. Because she was an outsider, it seemed a dark irony that she was ultimately punished by yet another outsider--the gypsy woman who originally gave her the curse -- for an act that “insiders” in the banking establishment undoubtedly committed every day.
So was justice ultimately done in the case of Christine Brown? The hell if I know.
Labels: Alison Lohman, Arrástrame al Infierno, Bancos, Películas de Halloween II, Películas Nuevas II, Sam Raimi