There’s nothing like a good story of revenge. I mean it worked for Shakespeare in Hamlet. The ghost of Hamlet’s father tells him to “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder” leading to a play with hardly anyone left standing on his feet by the end. Laertes has to revenge his sister Ophelia’s death, and oh yeah, Hamlet killing his father Polonius by mistake. Laertes also dies by the poison sword he prepares to kill Hamlet with...oh the situational irony! Claudius is forced to drink from the poison cup he prepared for Hamlet, but only after Hamlet’s mother drinks from it by mistake. Ophelia is driven to suicide by Hamlet’s feigned indifference. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern meet a messy end after Hamlet switches a letter from Claudius to the King of England. It’s a downright soap operatic orgy of intrigue and revenge. After all, it was the Renaissance and REVENGE PLAYS were IN.
A REVENGE PLAY (also called a revenge tragedy) was a Renaissance genre where the plot is mainly about a hero’s quest to get revenge on someone that has wronged him in some way. They were usually bloody in nature with lots of violence. It was initially established by The Spanish Tragedy by Thomas Kyd. The full title is The Spanish Tragedy, or Hieronimo is Mad Again (You gotta love a play with the name Hieronimo in the title!). Revenge is actually a character in the play. How cool is that? Kyd also established the Play-within-a-Play motif that Billy Shakespeare had no qualms about “borrowing” for his version of Hamlet.
Drag Me to Hell is an excellent example of this because it seems that every character has a revenge plot going on. The beginning shows us a séance gone wrong where the medium, Shaun San Dena as a young woman, loses a little boy to a demon called the Lamia. She swears they will meet again…duh, duh. Duuuuuuh. So her revenge is to get back at the demon who took the little boy she was trying to save. The main character, Christine Brown a loan officer at a bank, is trying to show her boss she can make the tough decisions so she will get a promotion over Stu (a sycophant if ever there was one). To prove her toughness, she denies an extension to a gypsy woman named Mrs. Ganush who in turn curses her with the lamia. So Ganush who feels she has been shamed is out for revenge on Christine. Oh yeah, and Stu steals one of her files in an attempt to make himself look good, so there’s Christine trying to get revenge on Stu! It’s a veritable Venge-fest! And the fact that it has a frame story kind of makes the whole movie a play-within-a-play! Nice.
Christine is tormented for a few days and ultimately enlists the help of the medium from the beginning of the movie who after all these years gets a chance to revenge the lamia by compelling its spirit into a goat and then sacrificing the goat…as we all know how to do in these situations, right? I’ll not spoil the fun ending for you, but suffice it to say…revenge is the word for this awesomely disgusting and fun horror flick by Mr. Sam Rami himself.
So next time someone offends you, don’t get even…