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Writer/Director Sam Raimi Talks About ‘Drag Me to Hell’

Sam Raimi Drag Me to HellWriter/director Sam Raimi on the set of ‘Drag Me to Hell.’

© Universal Pictures

When Sam Raimi announced his return to the horror genre with Universal Pictures’ Drag Me to Hell, fans everywhere welcomed him back with open arms. After roaming around in the world of Spider-Man for nearly a decade, Raimi was ready to direct a horror film – a genre he has a lot of love for. “I really like the horror genre,” said Raimi at the LA press day for Drag Me to Hell. “The horror audience is the best audience in the world. They want to be entertained. They go there to be thrilled. I feel like they’ve got a really fun attitude in their hearts when they go to see these movies. Not that normal audiences for everything else aren’t wonderful, but the horror audience is something special actually. Even better than a comedy crowd, they want to be entertained and appreciate things. I think they’re the best audiences in the world right now.”

Raimi had a great time getting back into the director’s chair for Drag Me to Hell. “It was not even flexing our muscles. It was really just a team of entertainers and artists and technicians coming together. I believe having a really great creative collaboration, all the crew members really contributed to this story and we were under a very tight budget and time schedule, not for most filmmakers but for me it was short because I’m very slow with the way I work. Everyone contributed. I think everyone understood that we were making fun entertainment for people. At least that was our goal. We’re going to try to make it a fun, spooky blast of a film for people. It was really clear that we weren’t making an art picture and everyone really got into that. I had a wonderful time.”

Drag Me to Hell follows Christine Brown (played by Alison Lohman), a real milquetoast of a woman who works as a loan officer in a bank. With a promotion to assistant bank manager on the line, Christine takes a stand and turns down a decrepit elderly lady’s request for an extension on her home loan. That move earns her praise from the bank manager and moves her ahead of her chief competitor for the assistant manager position. But it doesn’t sit well with Mrs. Ganush, the woman Christine rejected for an extension. And Christine quickly finds out Mrs. Ganush is not someone you should tangle with. The old gypsy woman curses Christine and soon horribly disgusting things begin happening that suggest an extension would have been the way to go.

Raimi took his time casting the part of Christine as he needed someone the audience would like enough to care about when the bad things start happening. “She’s really despicable. I don’t mean Alison. Alison’s okay, but Alison has a very positive charm that works on the audience, that helps us stay with her despite all the terrible things that she does. A lot of people forgive you if you’re good looking too, and Alison is very good looking and has a very nice smile. You get away with a lot, I think, with that. But when you think about what she does besides throwing that old woman out of the house, she goes against her own vows and kills [spoiler deleted] to save her neck. She lies to the old woman’s daughter at that house when she tries to get her way and get the old woman to take the curse off her. At the séance, when she’s asked everyone to risk their lives for her, she tries to blame her boss when confronted with the demon that it was really him. She, in fact, is ready to give that curse to some poor sap at the local Howard Johnson’s or Denny’s. She barely came up with a better idea. She came that close. I think she was a good person on the outside but when you really start to look at her, when she gets in an extreme situation, the real person comes out. In fact it’s really the old woman that’s the victim in this story and Alison Lohman, I think her character Christine deserved probably what she got. Maybe she was a little over punished. I wouldn’t have been as harsh, personally.”

But Christine’s punishment was always in the script. Raimi knew exactly where he wanted this character to end up from the get-go. “She starts out with the idea that she’s a good person. She thinks she’s a good person. Hopefully the audience can buy into that illusion because they’ve got so many things that they can identify with. She goes to work every day. She’s sweet to people. She’s pleasant and attractive. She’s got a boyfriend that is a sweet, intelligent fellow. They have a connection. She seems generous when it comes to things that aren’t critically important in her life, but when push comes to shove and she’s got to impress the parents, she feels that this job promotion would really help her. At that point, when we all have a chance to be greedy or not, when it’s important, she’s cruel to this old lady for her own betterment. She sins with greed and forces her out of the house, hiding under the rules of the bank. Because I wanted the audience to make this choice with her, I wanted to present her as a nice person. She is a nice person. We all are nice people, but we’re all sinners too. And I wanted you, the audience member, to make this choice with her, when the old woman was unpleasant looking, was absurd, I wanted the audience to say, ‘Yeah, just deny her the loan and get her out of the office for crying out loud.’ Because I had hoped that once you sinners had made that choice with her, that like it or not, you would know in your heart that that thing that had been sicced upon her was not just coming for her, but deservedly so for you because you had made that choice with her.”

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September 19, 2009 - Posted by | 1

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