Sam Raimi, who made his name directing the Evil Dead films before going mainstream with Spider-Man, returns to his schlock-horror roots with this fullblooded shriek-fest about a timid bank loan officer (Alison Lohman) who tries to impress her boss by refusing to renew a gypsy woman’s mortgage, only for the enraged old woman to damn her to hell. (Literally: we’ve already seen a fiery chasm opening in the ground to claim an earlier victim.)
It’s an updated variation on the set-up of Night of the Demon (which also has a cat in it), the very fine adaptation of MR James’s Casting the Runes. Can our heroine find a way of lifting the curse before her allotted three days are up? And will all this escalating demonic activity spoil that dinner where she’s hoping to impress the posh parents of her fiancé (Justin Long)?
Raimi alternates genuine shocks with tongue-in-cheek humour, a dash of social comment and a fat streak of cruelty. Yes, I’m afraid the kitten does get it. We have a CATRIFICE on our hands.
We, like Raimi, are aware that cats invariably come to sticky ends in horror movies (see CAT OF THE DAY 076, for example) so as soon as Christine learns a blood sacrifice is required to get the increasingly terrifying demon off her back, the director doesn’t even need to show us what happens to this kitty. All we see is Christine looming over it with a large knife, followed by a cut to her burying a fleetingly glimpsed furry corpse in the garden.
Interestingly, the scene was originally filmed in a more graphic way before being edited down, though it’s sufficiently stylised to be not very upsetting. Nevertheless, if you are very softhearted you should probably not watch this clip…