Drag Me To Hell – heck of an ending.

Today someone posted a snarky comment on my old review of the Kristin Scott Thomas film I’ve Loved You So Long. This caused me to re-read what I’d written, and guess what, snark or not, my opinion hasn’t changed: it’s four-fifths of a great movie, followed by one-fifth of a lousy one.

But that lousy one-fifth is right at the end; it’s what stays in your mind when you leave the theatre. It’s too bad that more websites don’t do what Slate does in its occasional feature called Spoiler Specials – that is, offer critical analysis of a recently-released film without eliding the most salient details of the plot. I would love to see a Spoiler Special on I’ve Loved You So Long – I’d be curious to see if anyone else agrees with me about the lameness of the ending.

***

Yesterday I saw another movie that you really can’t discuss without giving away how it ends – so if you haven’t seen Sam Raimi’s Drag Me To Hell, please go away now.

Slate blogger Jonah Weiner calls the “cruel reversal” of the final scene “worthy of O. Henry”, which is maybe true, but O. Henry wouldn’t have telegraphed it quite so blatantly: imagine a version of The Gift of the Magi in which Della’s haircut is intercut with a shot of Jim standing outside a pawn shop, fingering his gold watch in a thoughtful manner.

In Drag Me To Hell, the cruel reversal in question is the substitution of Christine’s gypsy-cursed button (conveniently sealed in a plain white envelope) for a rare coin that she’d given to her boyfriend (sealed, natch, in an identical envelope). Driving home from an unsuccessful exorcism, Christine’s possessions get jumbled up with the contents of the boyfriend’s briefcase on the floor of the car; she digs around, panic-stricken, for her misplaced MacGuffin, and seizes the wrong envelope, thereby sealing her fate. Raimi makes little attempt at misdirection. From that point on it’s pretty obvious where the story has to go.

Should I deduct points for the weakness of the coin-button swap? (How would I have done it more elegantly? Perhaps there could have been a bit more uncertainty about the identity of the accursed object. What if it turned out that the button Christine thought had been dropped into her pocket by the gypsy was just an innocent spare button, while the actual cursed button had been secreted somewhere else in her clothing?) I’m not sure if the setup makes much difference. While I wish the switcheroo had been executed with a little more dexterity, I can’t think of any way that the climax could be improved on. It’s simply one of the scariest, ballsiest endings in a horror movie, ever. And then that final shot of Justin Long’s face, as his terrified gaze drifts from the scene of his girlfriend’s final moments on earth to the ticket-to-hell still clamped between his trembling fingers, and then – whammo! – cut to title. What a kicker.

M.

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11 Responses to “<i>Drag Me To Hell</i> – heck of an ending.”


  1. 1 Jarrod Johnson November 6, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    THAT ENDING WAS MESSED UP AND A LITTLE STUPID!

  2. 2 Ricky November 11, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    I Agree, I saw the movie last nite at 2:AM, it was quite an interesting movie until the last scene, Man the last scene is Terrorific!!!!! I loved it, Just a couple movies in my whole life had that effect on me.

    Cool I didnt want to turn of the light…! I didnt feel that way since a I was a Kid… and Used to see peter cushing movies.

    Great ending…

    By the way, the boyfriend kept the button, is there any chance for us to have sequel?

  3. 3 Luis R November 11, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    Hey Ricky, U are right, He kept the button, will there be a second?
    and I thought the ending was messed up, i wish the chinese guy had gotten dragged to Hell 😄

  4. 4 Jon W. November 18, 2009 at 3:44 am

    To Luis R,

    He kept the button but the button wasn’t officially given to the BF so it doesn’t belong to him.

  5. 5 Jon W. November 18, 2009 at 3:47 am

    I still think the ending was stupid and she didn’t deserve it. On the IMDB forums they are saying the girl was selfish for denying the loan but IMO I think the old lady was selfish and stubborn. The girl provided alternatives but wouldn’t take them, all she wanted was money from the bank. The old lady should have been dragged to hell.

  6. 6 OTWarrior December 30, 2009 at 11:08 am

    I thought the ending was horrible. I would like to say I normally notice little details, but obviously missed the envelope swap, so thought the ending was a major plot whole. Now I understand the ending, I just find myself still disappointed that this lovely innocent girl was punished by this horrible gyspy woman (who only lived for a few days after cursing the main character anyway, making the mortgage issue pointless). Would have been nice for there to have been an alternate ending where the girl survives, but then I do prefer a happy ending when the main character is likeable (see the film Creep, for a main female character who you WANT to die horribly within 5 minutes of the film starting). DMTH Did not live up to the hype

  7. 7 Ebba S. April 19, 2010 at 7:59 am

    I watched this movie just about an hour ago, in school. My body shaked after the last scene, and continued to do so all the way home (from school). Damn, the movie was really scary, but, I don’t like the ending. She really didn’t deserve it… I like happy endings, so maybe I’m wrong. That’s just my opinion. There’s also another scene that I hate….when she kills her kitty and sacrifices it. Damn, I LOVE cats – especially kitties, I got one myself. I’m glad they didn’t show us when she killed it, though. Yet I don’t like the kitty’s last “meow” scream.

    So yeah, that’s my opinion.

  8. 8 Moe May 31, 2011 at 7:08 am

    If the Chinese guy was grabbed hten he woulda been liike “Hey I’m Bhuddist, I don’t beleive in Hell!” And then the demons woulda have to be like “Oh yeah…shit. Only peple who beleive in this shit fear it…. what do we do?”

    Then they would reincarnate him as an amobea or something and the end credits would be

    “Drag me to hell…if im Chirsitan” 😄

  9. 9 bob November 28, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    Ending Sucked!!!

  10. 10 Ken October 22, 2012 at 12:43 am

    Just some notes for Moe:

    1/ Learn to spell.

    2/ Buddhism does believe in hell.

  11. 11 lolgasm11 December 30, 2012 at 6:45 am

    Ken, its Buddhist’s do not Buddhism does…isn’t that awkward.


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