How Sam Raimi Feels About His Polarizing Drag Me To Hell Ending

Before legendary genre director Sam Raimi takes us on a trip through the multiverse of madness, let's look back on his most recent horror film, 2009's "Drag Me To Hell." Raimi co-wrote "Drag Me To Hell" with his brother Ivan, first as a short story in 1999 then a screenplay in 2002. After the stressful, creatively suffocating production of "Spider-Man 3," Raimi took a break from blockbusters and went back to his horror roots. The result was "Drag Me To Hell" making it to the big screen a decade after Raimi first conceived of it. 

And the film boasts one the most brutal ending in Raimi's filmography, one that left viewers everywhere divided. 

The title doesn't lie

Raimi describes "Drag Me To Hell" as a "morality tale," and the story unfolds like a classic fable; the protagonist wrongs a stranger and is punished for it. Specifically, loan officer Christine (Alison Lohman) denies Mrs. Sylvia Ganush (Lorna Raver) a mortgage extension. In return, Ganush curses Christine; for three days, the young woman will be tormented by a demon called the Lamia then taken to the underworld. Christine naturally looks for ways to avert this fate, but unfortunately for her, she's in a Sam Raimi movie. Her attempts to undo the curse fail and she's, well, dragged to hell.

The ending's a hell of a gut punch, especially thanks to a late-in-the-game bait-and-switch that makes Christine and viewers think she's free. However, it's also easy to understand why the conclusion can be a turn-off; our protagonist is condemned to the worst fate imaginable in horrifying detail. It's not just uneasy to watch, it's such a downer ending that it can make the preceding 90 minutes feel pointless. The final shot, of Christine's boyfriend Clay (Justin Long) looking towards the camera in disbelieving horror, offers no relief. On the other hand, others love the ending because it's so twisted and bleak; this writer is one of them. What does Raimi himself have to say?

How Raimi feels

"I thought it would be shocking to title the film 'Drag Me to Hell' and actually end it with giving exactly what the title demanded, and still making it incredibly shocking," said Raimi in a 2019 retrospective interview on "Drag Me To Hell" with Bloody Disgusting. "I thought that was a really funny cocktail for me." That mix of horror and comedy is what's defined Raimi's horror output. It also prepared him well for Spider-Man, a character who requires a blend of the goofy and the dramatic.

Raimi is more sympathetic to the ending's detractors than you might've first guessed: "I feel that the poor girl was over punished, as it happens in life sometimes. It is a morality tale, she did do the wrong thing, but holy cow, give her a break! But that's how this particular tale [ends]." 

It should be said that Raimi is no stranger to this kind of an ending; "The Evil Dead" ends with Ash screaming at the sight of an unseen force.

Raimi admitted later in the interview that he was stumped by a potential follow-up to "Drag Me To Hell." While it's safe to say that "Drag Me To Hell" won't go down a franchise starter like "Evil Dead" did, that speaks to the finality and power of the ending. Raimi accomplished exactly what he set out to do; make a film that followed through on a promised conclusion yet stunned its audience all the same.