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this girl shovels well.  she shovels very well.

this girl shovels well. she shovels very well.

PG-13

Alison Lohman, Justin Long, Lorna Raver, Dileep Rao

Clay: So many things to choose from here.  Unfortunately, not what I’m looking for, which is a weird little dried monkey head.  Oh wait, no, never mind, he’s got one…

In order to prove that she’s got what it takes to make tough decisions at work (and hopefully get a promotion), Christine (Lohman) denies a loan extension to an old lady who will be thrown out of her house without it.  The old lady, Mrs. Ganush (Raver), puts a curse on Christine, and she spends the rest of the movie trying to figure out how to avoid being literally dragged to hell by the demon that will come for her in 3 days.

While I can’t say that much about this story is that original or surprising, the real fun is in the visuals and the audacity of director Sam Raimi.  He puts his heroine through quite a few rough situations.  She’s thrown around a room by an annoying demon, has an arm shoved down her throat, swallows a fly, nearly drowns, is beaten up multiple times by a scary old woman, and has maggots vomited into her mouth.  All while trying to avoid that hell dragging fate.

Justin Long is there as mild comedy relief – in a movie goofy enough not to need any of that – and to be the comforting boyfriend who is supportive of his girlfriend that he thinks is sort of going crazy.  That was one of my problems with the movie actually.  I just don’t see how he could not see that something weird was going on when their house is constantly being trashed by a demon, Christine coughs up a fly, and strange winds are constantly blowing around her.  I would have rather seen the two of them going through this together rather than Clay doing all the typical things like telling Christine she just needs some sleep or a vacation.  I always feel there’s a scarier vibe to a situation when the character has everybody trying to help them out, but it’s still not enough.

Alison Lohman is good in the lead, especially in the scenes where she gets to let her farm girl toughness shine through.  Toughness she needs when fighting Mrs. Ganush, effectively played by Lorna Raver.  She just gets grosser and grosser as the movie goes on.

My overall impression of this movie was that it’s fun, but not much, story-wise, that I haven’t seen before.  I wish the characters had been a little more interesting and original, but at least Christine is effectively sympathetic.  The jump scares, accompanied by loud music, are actually warranted in this movie for a change.  It’s always something worth being scared about, like a demon face in a window, rather than just a cat or a bird.  That’s still the limit of the scares though.  The only eerie, disturbing part came at the very end.  An end that, I must admit, I saw coming from a long long way off.

Do not wrong old ladies with weird eyes and foreign accents.

10 – 1.4 for predictability – .8 for dull characters + .1 for Lohman’s performance – .6 for a few special effects that were actually kinda lame = 7.3