Directed and co-written by Sam Raimi, ‘Drag Me to Hell’ is a supernatural horror film starring Alison Lohman and Justin Long in the lead roles. Released in 2009, the critically and commercially successful film is known for its grounded yet complex storytelling that invested viewers in the plights of bank loan officer Christine Brown. In the movie, Christine finds herself cursed after an altercation with an angry debtor, leaving her with just three days to save herself by lifting the curse. Given the focus on exploring Christine’s morality with themes of greed and capitalism, viewers must be wondering if any real events inspired the movie. Therefore, we have gathered all the information you need to know about the inspiration behind ‘Drag Me to Hell.’
Is Drag Me to Hell Based on a True Story?
‘Drag Me to Hell’ is based on an original concept from director Sam Raimi, who co-wrote the screenplay with his brother, Ivan Raimi. The screenplay was originally written nearly a decade ago, but production was delayed primarily because of Sam Raimi’s commitments to directing the ‘Spider-Man‘ trilogy of films. According to Sam, the concept was first crafted as a short story with his brother, Ivan. In 2002, the brothers turned the short story into a screenplay, which was initially called ‘The Curse.’ During an interview, Sam admitted that the movie’s story is an absolute fabrication and does not resemble reality.
Furthermore, Sam also stated that he and Ivan did not put in much research while writing the screenplay. The only amount of research the writers did was when naming the demon that haunts the film’s protagonist, Christine Brown. Sam stated that they came across the legend of a demon named Lamia, which is depicted differently across different cultures, prompting him and Ivan to use it to tell their own story. However, Ivan Raimi has admitted that the primary idea behind the movie was to tell a story of morality while exploring his and Sam’s fascination with curses. “We’ve always loved the idea of curses. We loved thinking about what would happen to an ordinary person if they were cursed and put into these extraordinary circumstances,” Ivan said in a press release.
In the same press release, Sam explained the story’s moral complexity by stating that the plot revolves around a well-meaning girl who makes one wrong choice, a sinful choice that becomes the root of her plights. “We made Christine morally complex. She’s trying to get ahead in her job, like anyone else. She’s just a normal person with all of the attributes that we might have, colored in grays instead of black and white,” Ivan added. As a result, it is safe to say that Christine is a fictional character, and her relatable background and the morally complex situation she faces make her a compelling and relatable character for the audience to connect with.
Through Christine and the characters she interacts with, the movie explores the themes of greed, money, and capitalism. Christine is a mere cog in the loan system, but her actions directly affect a woman struggling to make ends meet. Similarly, Christine’s actions are informed by her motivation to score a promotion, which reflects her greed. Some viewers have taken the themes further to interpret them as a reflection of the subprime mortgage crisis and the Great Recession, which took place around the same time as the film was released. However, Sam Raimi has called the similarities with the real events a coincidence.
‘Drag Me to Hell’ resembles the 1957 British horror film directed by Jacques Tourneur and based on M. R. James’ short story ‘Casting the Runes.’ In both movies, the protagonist is cursed by a demon through a cursed object. Moreover, both movies also utilize the plot device of the protagonist having a limited time to lift the curse. As a result, it is easy to see how the narrative structure of ‘Drag Me to Hell’ is strongly rooted in the horror genre, especially following the demonic possession trope. Ultimately, ‘Drag Me to Hell’ is a clever, inventive, and thematically deep horror movie. It adds a layer of complexity to its characters and narrative by exploring moral dilemmas with themes of greed and capitalism, making it emotionally resonant.