Drag Me to Hell: Limited Edition [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray ALL - Australia - Via Vision
Review written by and copyright: Anthony Arrigo & Noor Razzak (2nd November 2023).
The Film

After jumpstarting his career in horror, Sam Raimi branched off into different genres – western, drama, thriller - before getting called up to the big leagues for Sony’s “Spider-Man” (2002-2007) trilogy. Fans who had hoped for a return to the ol’ splatter days had a 17-year wait until that moment finally arrived with “Drag Me to Hell” (2009). Raimi had been kicking that script around for close to a decade, even offering it to Edgar Wright at one point after realizing he didn’t have the time to see it through. Once the dust settled from a public spat-of-sorts between Raimi and Sony over the direction of a proposed “Spider-Man 4”, however, suddenly Sam found himself with a whole lotta free time and the desire to work on something “smaller”. The script he and his brother, Ivan Raimi, had written all those years back now fit perfectly within the wheelhouse of Ghost House Pictures, a production company Raimi launched with longtime producer Rob Tapert in 2002. Armed with a bigger budget (~$30 million) than he had for any previous horror film, Raimi still kept the scale small and (surprisingly) lightened up on the gore, making a more accessible film that still retained his trademark style.

Pasadena, 1959. A Hispanic family brings their son to see Shaun San Dena (Flor de Maria Chahua), a medium who specializes in demons and malevolent spirits, claiming the boy has been hearing voices after stealing a gypsy’s necklace. Before anything can be done the ground opens up and the child is literally dragged down into the fiery depths. Cut to present day, where we meet Christine Brown (Alison Lohman), an ambitious loan officer hoping to score that big promotion to assistant manager. She just has to impress her boss, Jim (David Paymer), and prove her abilities over Stu (Reggie Lee), a new co-worker gunning for the same position. Christine gets a chance to show she can “make the hard decisions” when elderly gypsy Sylvia Ganush (Lorna Raver) pays her a visit, looking for a loan extension on her about-to-be-foreclosed-upon home. Christine defers to Jim for advice, but he lobs the ball back into her court for the final decision. Thinking about that coveted promotion, Christine refuses the extension. Despite Mrs. Ganush’s on-her-knees pleading, Christine stands firm.

Later that night, while leaving work Christine is attacked by Ganush and the two women have a knock-down drag-out brawl that ends with the haggard old liver spot snatching a button off Christine’s coat and imbuing it with a curse. Christine is able to make out the word “Lamia” before passing out. The next day Christine and her boyfriend, Clay (Justin Long), have a chance encounter with Rham Jas (Dileep Rao), a soothsayer who warns Christine that she has been beset upon by an evil spirit. Clay is skeptical but Christine hears his words and all but confirms them after seeing bizarre hallucinations and being attacked by the demon in her home. An attempt to appeal to Mrs. Ganush and have the curse lifted fails when Christine learns the old woman recently died. Rham Jas offers to have Shaun San Dena (Adriana Barraza) perform a séance to trap and kill the Lamia but, really, the only sure way to be rid of the curse is for Christine to “gift” the accursed object (her button) to another – and that person will befall the same horrific fate.

When I first caught this in theaters I remember my only real disappointment was not Raimi’s lack of excessive gore but that so much of it was done using CGI. While there are several visceral, completely disgusting gross-out gags that were achieved with practical effects other moments, such as when the anvil drops on Ganush’s head, look like SyFy-level computer work. The kind of ingenuity that would have been used to pull of these effects is a large part of why Raimi’s early work is so beloved. Maybe the lure and ease of CGI is just too great? A similar thing happened to Peter Jackson, too. At least the tangible moments here are uncomfortably nasty, like Ganush’s frequent “gumming” of Christine’s chin… and all the gross crap she spits into her mouth. There is a lot to love; enough to outweigh the few moments of mediocrity. It’s just slightly frustrating as a fan because it’s clear where improvements could have been made. Still, bad CGI isn’t the film’s biggest problem…

…it’s the acting. Alison Lohman seems like a very nice young woman and I have no desire to criticize her to death, but she doesn’t have any range. Her entire performance as Christine is monotonous and generally flat. Emotions come across as directions read off a page; nothing feels true. She isn’t bad enough to sink the entire film but it was glaring during this, my fourth or fifth time watching the film, where it became very apparent. Also, I usually like Justin Long but he’s just kinda phoning it in here. The climax when he’s yelling out “Oh god!” on the train station platform is bad on a level only Ryan O’Neal could understand.

Christopher Young kills it, though. The man behind one of the greatest horror scores of all time, “Hellraiser” (1987), delivers with the goods. His main theme is reminiscent of “Danse Macabre” and the entire soundtrack vacillates between devilish strings and powerful, overwhelming compositions. The sound design was a highlight of this film (how often is that noticed enough to garner praise?) and Young’s score propels it to the fiery depths with glorious results.

Raimi has only done two pictures since “Drag Me to Hell”, 2013’s “Oz the Great and Powerful” and last year's MCU entry "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness", and unfortunately his jump back into the fold was yet another bloated CGI epic and not something akin to this fiendish little gem...


The 2.40:1 1080p 24/fps AVC MPEG-4 encoded image isn’t a major leap in picture quality over previous editions, in fact this looks very similar to the Shout! Factory release which was licensed from Universal, but videophiles will pick up on the improved black levels, tighter contrast, and lack of obvious compression issues. The picture is clean, blemish-free, and nicely detailed with strong color saturation and a proficient reproduction of the theatrical experience.


Expect to find audio options in English DTS-HD Master Audio with both 2.0 stereo and 5.1 surround sound tracks included. As mentioned, Young’s score soars in lossless, providing a tense, immersive experience for viewers. Rear speakers are used frequently, especially during scenes involving the Lamia, and viewers can expect to hear demonic noises and scattered sound effects from every corner of the room. Dialogue is never lost in all this chaos, though, and voices are always clear and easy to understand. Subtitles are available in English for the hearing impaired.


DISC ONE: "Theatrical Cut"

“Production Diaries: Behind-the-Scenes Footage and Interviews with Cast and Crew” (1080p) featurette (35:09), occasionally “hosted” by Justin Long these offer up a glimpse into the production via fly-on-the-wall and on-set video.

“Vintage Interviews” (SD) featurette (33:37), featuring additional chat time with Raimi, Lohman, and Long.

Two TV spots (SD) are included, (0:50).

A theatrical trailer (1080p) (2:21).

DISC TWO: "Unrated Director's Cut

A brand new feature-length audio commentary is included by Author Troy Howarth and Mondo Digital's Nathanial Thompson. The love for the genre and for Raimi is evident here as these two offer up a lively and informative audio track that fans will likely eat up. They provide a broad stroke which could have only been made better if Raimi himself was involved.

"Editing Drag me to Hell" is a new featurette (10:59) that interviews editor Bob Murawski, Raimi's long time editing collaborator talks about their history working together and on the editing process for "Drag me to Hell".

"Channeling Drag me to Hell" is a new featurette (14:30) is an interview with actor Dileep Rao as he talks about his career on getting cast in this film and working with the filmmakers and co-stars.

"Designing Drag me to Hell" is a new featurette (23:16) is an interview with production designer Steve Saklad as he talks about how he met Raimi and on their work together as well as getting together to work on this film which seemed like a perfect fit, the clip takes a look at the influences for the film's design and on achieving that for camera.

"Illustrating Drag me to Hell" is a new featurette (14:15) with an interview featuring storyboard artist/prop master Christian Cordella. The artists talks about loving Raimi's early films and on his horror influences. He comments on how he started working with the filmmaker and bringing his dream of working in horror genre to life as well as his involvement in "Drag me to Hell".

"Scoring Drag me to Hell" is a new featurette (21:48) that includes an interview with composer Christopher Young, as he discusses his love of Raimi's films and on wanting to work with him for a long time. On their collaboration together, writing the score, and on the themes of the film's music among other things.

Included in the package are a collection of 6 photo cards.


Packaged in a Limited Edition 3D lenticular slip-case. Numbered edition of 1250 copies.


Back to (mostly) basics and dripping with the signature style fans had missed for so long, Raimi came back in a big way with “Drag Me to Hell”. Nearly ten years on the film still holds up just as well, although it is robbed of additional pathos due to wooden acting. Regardless, this is just what fans hoped to see Raimi pull off once again and he does not disappoint.

The Film: B+ Video: A- Audio: A+ Extras: A Overall: A


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