Writer/director Sam Raimi, after a romp with "Spider-Man, is back again to his roots in horror flicks.
In a prologue we find a cursed child who over a period of three days is sent to eternal damnation. That sets us up for what follows: an ambitious bank employee (Alison Lohman) who refuses a loan to a repulsive old lady (Lorna Raver) and receives a gypsy curse as a result. She and her boyfriend (Justin Long) experience unimaginable, Jungian tinged horrors - screeching sounds, terrifying destruction, deranged creatures, great winds, shadowy images, rattling objects, insects doing unpleasant things, gooey messes, shaking doors - to what end? - taking her through three days of attempts to exorcise the curse - all this accompanied by repeated stabs in Christopher Young's terrifying score and sudden re-appearings of the disgusting old lady spewing disgusting gobs of phlegm.
Raimi and his brother Ivan once again wreak all kinds of havoc, some familiar, some (like a talking goat!) less so. From start to unexpected finish, the movie stuns, shocks, throws fear into hearts until a repetition of effects mitigates the effect.
There's a problem here in what defines the movie's purpose. Is it a throwback to the corny horror flicks of the 30s & 40s or is it tongue-in-cheek fun (thus explaining so many false leads, the goat, etc.)? The latter would excuse anything that appears to be incongruous or repetitive, but doesn't explain why the aim seems more often as not to take itself seriously.
The characters (as in typical horror flicks) are thinly created, uniformly unreal, superficial in characterization, though Ms. Lohan appears to enjoy the variety of emotions she is forced to endure.
There is a scene in the old lady's home which epitomizes the confusion of it all: a grand old mansion occupied by gypsy types drinking & celebrating - what? - the old lady's death? - while our heroine examines portraits of the hag in her radiant, attractive prime. So?
No doubt about it. The movie entertains throughout its 110-minutes. The Raimis see to that with all the gimmicks on hand. But, like the rest of the audience, who sat in confused wonder as the credits crept up, I was left wondering what it was all about?