The movie Drag Me To Hell staring Allison Lohman as Christine Brown, tells the story of a struggle for power in a variety of ways. We are first introduced to this when we see the empty assistant manager’s desk and quickly find out that Christine and the new guy Stu are neck and neck in their race for the position. However, mixed in throughout this mess there is a deeper meaning regarding what a tough working environment can do to a person. Throughout the story Christine not only fights for the new opening as assistant manager but she also fights herself and her own bulimic tendencies brought to life vividly through the “curse” bestowed upon her from an old lady whom she denies an extension on her mortgage. However, it is not the actual denial of the extension that sets the old woman off, but rather how she felt Christine shamed her when she was begging Christine for help. As a consequence, Christine is “cursed” by the old lady and for the next three days, demons proceed to shame Christine like how she shamed the old lady.
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The first and most prominent struggle brought out by the stressful conditions of her job would be the struggle of moving up in her business and the competition of new workers that might take her spot. The stress drives both parties present to the extremes, forcing them to do things they would likely never do if it weren’t for the assistant manager opening. The first and by far most profound example of this would be when Christine denies an old lady named Mrs. Ganush an extension on her mortgage payment despite her ability to extend it. She did this in an effort to impress her boss and show him that she can be assertive and make decisions on her own. Christine is naturally a very lighthearted woman, she wants what’s best for other people and she hates being rude or mean. Stu on the other hand is very aggressive on the job and the current manager makes a point to let Christine know that he sees this distinction between them and he even goes so far to say that her tameness may cost her the assistant manager’s position. This forms a very well defined line for Christine when she has do decide whether to extend the old lady’s loan or not. This is because approving the loan would mean not only a potential risk to the company’s profitability, but also it would prove everyone right in thinking that she doesn’t have what it takes to make the tough decisions required to be an assistant manager. Christine in an effort to prove herself declines to give the poor old lady an extension on the mortgage and in effect manages to impresses the current manager. However, by doing so she released her own inner demon that would in time destroy not only her career but also her life. Nevertheless, holding back from the paranormal side of things momentarily, we see that the stress doesn’t end with Christine. The stress and tension over the job is felt by both sides and drives Stu to do things like offer their manager free Lakers tickets in hopes that the new assistant manager job might be his. He also does things like threatening to tell their manager that Christine refused to teach him more about handling loans which would make her look lazy and unappealing for the new position. The stress would eventually lead Stu to steal a big loan from not only Christine but also his company as a whole in an effort to gain the assistant managers position in place of Christine.
On the paranormal side of things, once Christine gets “cursed” her life starts a downward spiral that she’s helpless to prevent. For three days Christine is tormented by demons supposedly as payback for shaming Mrs. Ganush. Throughout these three days we are exposed to much of Christine’s fears and insecurities about herself through the demons. For those three days, leading up to her possession by the demon Lamia, food seems to be the spawning ground for all of Christine’s demonic misfortunes. While she is in her house, the only time she is ever attacked by the demon is while she is in the kitchen and the one time she runs up to her room we see the shadow of the demon as being pig hoofs. This is important because it shows us how this demon could be something more than just a scary face. But rather a projection of her own fears, prior to the demon pig scene we see a picture of Christine as an overweight child at a pork queen fair. This shows us how self-conscious she is about her weight because she crumples it up and throws it away in disgust as it reminds her of what she used to be. The demon having pig feet represents what she used to be and it scares her that she was once an overweight farm girl with a southern accent. This trend of food continues throughout the movie further supporting the theme of her insecurity over her weight. Another example would be how the one time Christine is forced to eat something at her boyfriend Clays parents’ house she envisions an eye popping out of the harvest cake and blood pouring out of it as she stabs it. Further evidence of Christine’s insecurities of her weight resided in the actions of the demon towards her. Nearly every time a demon interacts with her, the demon is always either forcing something in her mouth and down her throat or throwing up or spitting in her mouth. Two clear examples of this would be one when the demon lady appears in her garage and forces miraculously half of its arm down her throat and another would be when in her dream the demon lady pukes directly in to Christine’s mouth. A disturbing sight no doubt, but it further reinforces Christine’s bulimic tendencies and it shows the extremes that people will go to in order to move up in the labor force. In Christine’s particular case it happens to revolve around her weight and how she seems to believe that she needs to be super skinny in order to be respected at her work.
Respect at her work is only the first step for Christine, however, because she not only desires more respect at her work but she also is striving for more mobility within her job in the form of the new assistant manager’s position. Christine’s self-image of herself is a very convoluted one and it is a main obstacle standing in the way of her and the new position. She has these images ingrained in her head of the fat, southern girl she used to be and she applies them to herself in the real world as if they are still relevant. She takes the smallest things and exaggerates them in her head to the extremes. She is a beautiful, slender woman and she overstresses all of her imperfections such as her ever so slight southern accent and anxiety over her weight. One great example of her amplifying a situation inside her head would be when she has a small bloody nose while at work. She envisions blood squirting everywhere and her manager getting showered in her bloody nose. Meanwhile nobody seems to react to the gallons of blood spewing out of Christine’s nose and thus leads us to believe that much of it is in her head.
Christine strives to be accepted in many different ways by changing herself. Another thing that Christine tries to change about herself would be her southern accent and the farm girl reputation that comes with it. Christine seems to hate her accent because she sees it as a barrier for two main things. She sees her accent as a barrier to moving up in her workplace and also as a barrier for her desire to be accepted by Clay’s mother. In her workplace she feels as though her accent may seem unprofessional and as a result this hinders people from seeing her in any position of power or authority. Similarly, Clay’s mother sees Christine and her accent as a poor farm girl and nothing else. She speaks with Clay about a girl who’s smart and would help his career and then compares her to Christine and how she will do nothing good for him in the future. This is a stereotype Christine wishes to break, but in order to do this she must first break the accent which is why we see her practicing her words in the car on her way to work.
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The accent stems back to her childhood which seems to haunt her throughout the movie and also serves as a connection between her desire to move up in the work force and her fear of her weight and as a result her fear of food. Food reminds her of her obese past and her southern lifestyle including her heavy southern accent. Her southern accent serves as a barrier to her for upward movement in the labor force and because of her heavy association with her southern accent and her weight back then, she sees food and her weight as barriers within the labor force as well and she lets these barriers dominate her decisions throughout the movie. This helps us to see the sociopolitical significance of her striving for upward mobility because despite her being equal to any other worker under the law, society has its own stereotypes for men and women and we see how the added pressure on women can lead to things such as developing eating disorders. As a general rule, people tend to associate men with high-powered positions. We see this in the movie by looking at her boss who is a white male and holds the power to promote Christine or let her stay on her current level. We see this trend around the world as we look at world leaders such as presidents. Our home country has never once had a female president. It’s not to say that a woman could not handle the job of president any better than a man could, but it goes to show the social barriers present within society. These social barriers provide such a strong image of what a high powered person should be like that it forces women around the world, including our protagonist Christine, to fit in with what it “socially acceptable”. The image of being tall, strong, male and fit could lead women looking to advance in the workforce to change who they are in order to better fit the position. From eating disorders to the masculinization of women within the work force, despite being equal under the law women are still striving for equality from their employers and that leads to more women developing eating disorders in order for them to achieve what they desire at their jobs.
The film “Drag Me To Hell” is more than just a horror movie; it’s a metaphor for eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia. Moreover, I would also like to describe it as an allegory for the multiple struggles people face as a result of poor working conditions all around the world. Poor working conditions lead to the desire for an advancement within the workforce and depending on the particular field a woman may be pursuing, that very well could lead to an eating disorder in order for the woman to fit in to what is deemed socially acceptable of them in the position that they are fighting for. Christine in “Drag Me To Hell” shows us the struggles of countless other “Christine’s” around the world. It tells the story of people trying to live up to societies ever growing expectations for people within the workforce and how we as humans cope with these ever-changing standards. In addition, it also portrays the struggle for power that is present at nearly any job around the world and it displays what people are willing to do in order to be the one at the end of the day that’s standing on top.
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