Critics rarely bestow much praise on horror movies, and indeed, many studios are loath even to have advance press screenings for them. But when the horror movie is directed by the highly regarded Sam Raimi, a one-time horror-meister who went on to make blockbuster hits with the three Spider-Man films, a whole different approach comes into play. Most of the reviews of Raimi's Drag Me to Hell are marked by polite applause, grudgingly given. Typical is Janet Catsoulis's in the New York Times , who writes that "the movie has a crackpot vitality that breaches our defenses." She concludes that Raimi's "talent is greater than this, but for now this will do." Joe Neumaier in the New York Daily News observes, "It's not flawless, but its vulnerabilities don't linger, because director Sam Raimi truly believes in what he's doing." Peter Howell in the Toronto Star agrees that the movie is "fun," but he asks, couldn't it "have been just a little bit more imaginative? Apart from the evocative title, which is a great nod to '50s drive-in fare, the film is as predictable as a meal beneath the golden arches." Wesley Morris in the Boston Globe says that the movie "splits the difference between blockbuster and schlock a horror movie that eventually finds that contagious comic high of Raimi's no-budget youth, but with grown-up money now." Many critics, however, are giving Raimi unqualified praise. Dan Kois in the Washington Post writes that Raimi's "return to horror filmmaking is a satisfyingly, terrifyingly old-fashioned thriller and chiller, all right." And Joe Morgenstern rejoices "O, joy, a horror flick that's smart and funny, as well as cringeworthy for all the right reasons."

01/06/2009