Welcome to Will Mom Like This? an exploration into the trials and tribulations of sharing your favorite scary movies with family. Sharing movies with loved ones is a beautiful thing. As beautiful as it is, I think we have all experienced moments so uncomfortable you wish the couch would swallow you whole. In this new monthly column, I’m going to try and help you avoid that as much as possible. My hope is that this will work as a sort of guide for you to know when you should excuse yourself to refill the popcorn bowl and avoid the wrath of a disgruntled or disgusted parent. Be warned, we will be discussing a lot of plot spoilers but only so we don’t spoil a perfectly good evening with your folks.
I decided my mom deserved a break after making her watch Human Centipede last month, so this time around I let her pick from a list of on-theme movies and Drag Me To Hell (2009) caught her eye. When I asked why, she told me she knew nothing about the movie, but “Hell is scary. Being dragged there is scary,” and I have to agree. My personal history with this movie is that I watched it once around the time it came out, and thought it was dumb. Since then, I’ve heard overwhelming praise for Drag Me To Hell from lots of people I respect, so I was excited to revisit it. Some additional context for this particular viewing is that my dad was also in the room, watching a baseball game on his iPad, and my mom and I had roughly an entire bottle of wine (each) before the movie was over.
Blood & Guts (And Other Goos!)
There is a wide variety of bodily fluids present in Drag Me To Hell. It’s really the meat and potatoes of this whole affair. My mom is much more comfortable when everyone’s fluids stay on the inside, so I knew this would be a hurdle to overcome. In the scene where we first meet our main character Christine (Alison Lohman), she tries proving she is cutthroat enough to earn a promotion at the bank where she works. As a result, she declines a request for a mortgage extension from an elderly woman, Sylvia Ganush (Lorna Raver).
Sylvia does not take the news well and attacks Christine in the building’s parking lot that evening, demonstrating a truly unprecedented amount of strength for a tiny old lady. In the ensuing struggle, Sylvia‘s dentures get knocked out and she proceeds to suck on the lower half of Christine‘s face in a slobbery, gummy mess, prompting my mom to yell, “PLEASE keep your teeth in your mouth!” The whole parking lot scene is out of control, but it seems like the lack-of-teeth-in-mouth was the worst of it for my mom. It even got my dad to look up from his game and demand to know “Why doesn’t she push her out of the car?” Solid plan Dad.
“PLEASE keep your teeth in your mouth!” -Mom
After this first gross-out scene is where things took an unexpected turn. My mom became very critical of Drag Me To Hell, repeatedly announcing that she was underwhelmed. We were only 20 minutes into the movie give or take, so I was taken aback when she yelled “where is the bloodletting?” We could not have predicted this. She wanted more! I really think I poisoned her brain with The Human Centipede (2009) because she kept commenting on how this movie is nothing compared to “the bug man movie.” Had I broken her trust so severely that despite the hellfire, demons, and ancient curses, she was still waiting for the other shoe to drop and left disappointed when it didn’t?
I’m glad to say I haven’t completely broken her because there were still plenty of foul moments in Drag Me To Hell that pulled a reaction from her. For example, after Christine realizes that Sylvia has put a curse on her, she shows up at Sylvia‘s house in an attempt to reverse it, only to discover that Sylvia has died and she has happened upon her wake. As Christine clumsily stumbles around the room, she accidentally pulls the corpse of Sylvia on top of her and is promptly covered in gallons of pea soup vomit, most of which goes directly into her mouth. It’s great, I love it, and I pray it’s something that can’t happen in real life, because in all my days I’ve never seen so much barf come out of a person, dead or alive. So much so that it lead my mom to ask “Do we have to continue?” We did have to continue.
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Luckily for us, the various goos and fluids were not the only nasty elements present in Drag Me To Hell, it’s also a movie full of bugs. The first offender is a very prolonged sequence of a fly crawling into Christine‘s nose and mouth while she sleeps in bed with her boyfriend Clay (Justin Long).
(A necessary sidebar is that I asked my mom if she had ever heard of the movie with my favorite Justin Long performance, Tusk (2014), and to my delight she hasn’t. Please nobody tell my mom what happens in the movie Tusk, thank you.)
This fly really takes its time prancing around Christine‘s face and my mom did not appreciate that. Other honorable mentions include the time that Christine wakes up in bed next to the rotting body of Sylvia who then vomits up maggots onto her, as well as the time Christine coughs up a fly while at Clay‘s parents’ house for dinner and is swiftly asked to leave. And who could forget the time when Christine digs up Sylvia‘s corpse to return a cursed button to her and, naturally, that corpse is riddled with maggots. It’s a real bug-a-polooza over here and if your parent, like my mom, is not too fond of creepy crawlies, this is going to present a problem.
Another problem we encountered with Mom was with the jump scares, and Drag Me To Hell is chock full of them. Normally my mom, like myself, is very easily affected by a jump scare, but with this movie, they just made her so mad. A vast majority of the jump scares in this movie end up being innocuous and like we talked about before, she was so desperate for something scary to happen that each pointless jump scare only fueled her anger.
For example, in the aforementioned parking lot scene, a handkerchief hits the car window in a completely over the top jump scare that caused my mom to shout things like “Why is that flying around? Why is that scary?” She also got angry when I would audibly react to one of the little jump scares. Let this be my formal apology to my mother; I am so sorry, I am not a tough girl. In my defense, there were at least a couple of scares that got her too. One of the many times that Sylvia lunges at the screen, I definitely heard “no way no way no way,” come out of her mouth. I will say that it did get to a point where there were so many jump scares that we stopped reacting to them altogether. Ultimately, the biggest jump scare of the night did come from my dad snoring himself awake three-quarters of the way through the movie.
“Hell is scary. Being dragged there is scary.” -Mom
The Great Cat Debate
While certainly not the grossest or scariest part of Drag Me To Hell, I would be remiss not to mention Christine‘s cat, which was 100% the most contentious part of my viewing experience with my mom. The cat is out of this world cute, and this had our attention immediately with both of us cooing nonstop over the cat. However, after seeing the cat a few times, my mom became certain that this was a fake cat. I don’t know where this thought came from, but she was unshakable in her resolve. “That cat is two inches tall,” she said. I tried to argue that the already small cat was just farther away from the camera than Christine was, but she did not want to hear this. “That was such a green screen,” she asserted. I couldn’t understand why they would need to green-screen in a cat to sit on a table, but she was convinced.
She decided we would just have to rewatch the scene to decide if it was a real cat or not. My working theory is that she was just so fed up with the movie that she took it out on the little cat. Or perhaps it was the bottle of wine. She kept telling me I had to “wait for it,” but I don’t know what I was waiting for. This was her first time watching the movie, and also the cat was never revealed to be fake. The cat does get killed by Christine as she thinks a sacrifice will break the curse, which did horrify both of us. “That’s was my favorite fake thing in this movie,” she said. This was not a fight that I was going to win.
Now, I was able to boil down the things that upset my mother the most in this movie into the categories listed above, but there are plenty of other moments that she took offense to in Drag Me To Hell, including:
- Sexism in the workplace
- Shitty boyfriend: we spent the last minutes of the movie chanting “Drag Justin Long to Hell! Drag Justin Long to Hell!”
- Poor nail maintenance
- Underuse of Octavia Spencer
- Goat in peril
“Drag Justin Long to Hell! Drag Justin Long to Hell!” -Mom
But Did Mom Like It?
So, the time came to ask the question, did Mom like that? I have to say, I really don’t think she did. This was confirmed for me when she said “I’m not getting this,” at a point when there was about 15 minutes left in the movie. Her takeaway was that she just wanted more people to get dragged to hell. All that aside, I would still say that this is a pretty safe movie to watch with a parent. The gore is definitely super gross, but always in a fun way, and you may have noticed that I gave no advisory for sexual situations or nudity, and that’s because there was absolutely none. Christine literally sleeps with a cardigan on at one point, I don’t think her body could be any more covered. 4/5 Moms would recommend. I also think it’s worth mentioning that the next day she came into my
bedroom home office to ask me if there was a sequel, so it couldn’t have been all bad.
Would you ever watch Drag Me To Hell with a parental figure? Are you mad at us for not liking it? What’s your favorite memory of watching uncomfortable movies with mom? Let us know what scary movie have you always wanted to watch with your parents over on Twitter, in the Nightmare on Film Street Subreddit. and on Facebook in the Horror Movie Fiend Club. We’ll do our best to give you a heads up of everything you’ll want to avoid, but don’t blame us if they disown you!