I don’t understand the ecstatic notices for Sam Raimi‘s Drag Me To Hell , which I saw late yesterday afternoon. It’s a stunningly sloppy and low-rent thing. There was reason to expect that Raimi would apply at least some of the focus and finesse that he showed in A Simple Plan and in portions of the Spider-Man films, but this is a shoddy and unintelligent wankoff from start to finish.

The story and human behavior are so contrived, hackneyed and illogical that all you can do is throw up your hands and say “what is this?” I understand the deal with intentionally ludicrous horror films — the rules of reality don’t apply, go with the attitudinal flow, etc. — but a filmmaker who flaunts style and tricksterism over all other factors, as Raimi does here, is going to have to lay it out with me.

Drag is supposed to be a semi-humorous wallow — I get that. Raimi’s recapturing of an Evil Dead low-budget sensibility, showing us (and himself) that he hasn’t lost that crudely feverish push-the-frenzy quality. But Drag Me To Hell isn’t remotely digestible on any level. It’s ludicrous, absurd. Even the vaguely yellowish color photography is irksome. (It reminded me of the color tones in the various Airport films.)

The core problem is that none of the nightmare agonies experienced by Alison Lohman‘s bank-loan officer are morally justified. She declines to approve a home mortgage loan because the applicant — a diseased old crone — has a bad credit history, having failed to keep up with timely payments on two previous loans. (Or something along those lines.) Isn’t that what a responsible loan officer should do? She isn’t particularly manipulative or greedy or scheming. She’s just a nice dull girl living in a house she can’t afford.

As Village Voice critic Nick Pinkerton writes, Drag Me To Hell doesn’t present “a particularly nuanced moral vision. Does Raimi — who began his career on a shoestring in the Tennessee woods and now commands $300 million bonanzas — actually believe professional ambition should be punished with eternal damnation?”