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Whatever happened to the star of Drag Me to Hell

For some actors, playing the lead in a critically and financially successful film may just be the key to a bigger and better career. So what could compel an actor with a string of well-received films on their resume to retreat from the limelight?

Take the case of actress Alison Lohman. Among her acting credits, you'll find a number of recognized and respected titles. With films like Matchstick Men, White Oleander, and Big Fish under her belt, her career once seemed to be headed in an upward direction. However, after her leading role in director Sam Raimi's 2009 horror outing Drag Me to Hell, the actress stopped taking major roles, seemingly out of nowhere. As her appearances quickly tapered off, there was little in the way of news or announcements about Lohman's plans for her acting career. 

So, what happened to Alison Lohman, and why has the actress remained virtually absent from the public eye ever since Drag Me to Hell? 

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Her early career

Alison Lohman's career began at a young age in her hometown of Palm Springs, California. Though she lived close to Hollywood, the young actress didn't have much exposure to the celebrity lifestyle. As she told The Baltimore Sun, the closest contact she had with a celebrity was when her father built a home for the famous golfer Arnold Palmer.

Though she grew up outside the Hollywood life, Lohman was drawn to the theater. Her first professional role was Gretl in The Sound of Music at Palm Desert's McCallum Theater when she was nine years old. Eventually, people began to take notice of Alison's talents. Notably, Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope saw her in a show, and were so impressed that they asked her to sing with them at a concert.

Lohman was given an award from the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts after graduating high school. She was also offered a scholarship to the New York University School of the Arts, which she turned down. Following high school, she moved to Los Angeles and began her screen career with minor TV roles, appearing in Pacific Blue and 7th Heaven. In 2002, she earned a role in the film White Oleander, playing the part of oft-uprooted teenager Astrid Magnussen. The following year, Lohman landed another significant role as Sandra Bloom in Tim Burton's Big Fish. In the 2006 film Flicka, she played the starring role of Katy McLaughlin. Her career seemed to be on a meteoric rise.

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Drag Me To Hell

After starring in Flicka, Lohman's next leading role would be Christine Brown in Drag Me to Hell, Sam Raimi's return to his Evil Dead-style horror roots following his mainstream success with the Spider-Man trilogy. Drag Me to Hell is arguably Alison's most well-known role, and she put a lot of effort into bringing the character to life. In a 2009 interview with Empire, Alison described her experience working with Rami and the long hours of filming. Co-star Justin Long reported, "I've never seen an actress work so hard… At the time I did not envy her. I got to go home early, sleep, and she just kind of got dragged to hell making it."

Lohman would later reflect on how draining the experience was, particularly the movie's torture scenes. According to the actress, "[Rami] just really likes to see his actors tormented. Because honestly, there was a certain amount in the script and he would just keep adding to it."

Though her role wasn't exactly a walk in the park, her efforts certainly paid off. Drag Me to Hell performed exceptionally well, garnering enthusiastic reviews from critics and tripling its modest budget at the box office worldwide. With the success of the film, many were eager to see Lohman take on other leading roles and further develop her acting portfolio. 

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Gamer

Though many were excited to see Alison Lohman take on another significant film role, her next performance was only a minor one in Gamer, from directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor. This over-the-top sci-fi thriller takes place in a future where the world's most popular video game allows players to take control of real-life death row inmates in mortal combat. Alison plays the character Trace, a member of an activist group known as the Humanz. 

In an interview with Syfi, Lohman spoke about her initial reaction upon first reading the script for the film. According to the actress, "It turned out better than I expected, to be honest… I read the script, and a lot of the time, reading the scripts, it doesn't even give an idea of the tone of the movie or a lot of the other different aspects. So when the director gets involved, they have such their own take on it, and both Mark and Brian are very strong."

Unfortunately, Gamer received a much less enthusiastic reception than Drag Me to Hell. Afterward, developments in Lohman's personal life would call for the actress to step away from the spotlight.

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Married life

Shortly before the release of Gamer in 2019, Lohman married the film's co-director, Mark Neveldine. Alongside his creative partner, Brian Taylor, Neveldine is best known for directing the 2006 film Crank and its 2009 sequel Crank: High Voltage. Other projects include Sony's 2011 Marvel sequel Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance and 2015's exorcism movie The Vatican Tapes, his first directorial effort without Taylor.

Neveldine and Taylor had risen quickly to action movie prominence thanks to their penchant for over-the-top action. In 2011, Neveldine visited a screenwriting class at Hobart and William Smith Colleges to speak with students about his experiences in the film industry and the discovery of his signature shooting style. According to the filmmaker, he developed his aesthetic in part by shooting footage while holding onto the sides of cars and buses while wearing roller skates. It was this unique process that caught the attention of Nike, who jumpstarted his career by commissioning him for commercial work, setting him on the path to a wild career… and a happy marriage.

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Mother of three

But what does one do with their life when not training a wild stallion, being dragged to hell, or participating in a gladiatorial blood match? For Alison Lohman, the answer was to start a family, remaining careful to maintain a certain amount of privacy as she did so. Shortly following the couple's marriage, she and Neveldine welcomed their first child, Billy Neveldine, in 2010… though they didn't make the birth public knowledge for months. A second child expanded their family not long after. In 2018, Neveldine took to Twitter to announce the arrival of "baby #3."

Lohman and Neveldine have been mostly successful at keeping the details about their private lives out of the public eye. It seems likely that a focus on her family and to desire protect the privacy of her children have caused the actress to step away from significant roles in recent years, opting instead for minor appearances, particularly in projects which also involve her husband.

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The Vatican Tapes

In 2015, Lohman made a brief appearance as a psychiatric patient in her husband's horror film, The Vatican Tapes. The movie follows Father Lozano, a priest who becomes acquainted with a young woman named Angela when she's rushed to the hospital after an accident. Miraculously, Angela survives against incredible odds and returns home seemingly in perfect health. However, not everything is as it seems, and Angela quickly begins to demonstrate uncharacteristically violent and dangerous behavior. Father Lozano realizes that Angela is a victim of demonic possession, and plans an exorcism in the hope of ridding her of the evil entity that has attached itself to her.

The Vatican Tapes proved to be a fairly enjoyable but ultimately forgettable horror outing, with middling reactions from audiences, largely negative reviews from critics, and an underwhelming box office performance. Lohman's unnamed role is very small one, finding her on screen only briefly as a member of Angela's therapy group.

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Urge

In the 2016 indie thriller Urge, a few well-off friends arrive on an island to enjoy a weekend of partying. Shortly after they settle in, the group heads to a bar and runs into a mysterious nightclub owner who exposes them to a new drug called Urge. He warns the group that the drug will allow them to "cleanse themselves," but that they can only take Urge once, or else there will be consequences. After taking the drug, the group has euphoric fantasies and quickly becomes intoxicated with the ecstasy it provides. Ignoring the warning from the nightclub owner, they indulge again, hoping to prolong their night of fun. Unfortunately, the pleasant evening begins to take a nasty turn when their fantasies turn into nightmares, and each member of the group becomes anxious and violent. 

The few critics who saw fit to review Urge panned it — it currently sits with a rare 0% critical score to complement the 27% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. Lohman's role amounts to a cameo in a brief post-credit scene where she plays a mother shopping at a grocery store who stumbles upon a group of violent-looking shoppers. It's likely that she took the gig as something of a family favor, considering that Neveldine served as one of Urge's producers.

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Officer Downe

Lohman's latest film credit is as the character Sister Blister in 2016's Officer Downe. Directed by Shawn Crahan (percussionist and founding member of the heavy metal band Slipknot) and produced by Mark Neveldine, Officer Downe serves as a film adaption of the Image Comics series of the same name by writer Joe Casey (who also penned the film's screenplay) and artist Chris Burnham.

The movie follows a Los Angeles police officer who, with the help of a dark and mysterious technology, is resurrected after death. Repeatedly, Officer Downe is brought back to life and returns to active duty, facing tons of over-the-top violence and an unexpected number of villains wearing animal masks. Officer Downe made very little impact upon its extremely limited theatrical release, earning mostly tepid reactions from the few who saw it.

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Coach Lohman

Since her last role as Sister Blister in Officer Downe, Lohman has not appeared in any other films or television shows, having seemingly stepped away from acting. However, she hasn't completely left the public sphere or the dramatic arts. In 2017, she announced the launch of her new website, Act with Alison, where she offers up her services as an online acting coach.

"I've always enjoyed helping my friends with their craft," she explains in the site's introductory video. "I've had so much fun that I've decided to bring it to you." Communicating via Skype with aspiring actors ages five and up, her services include one-on-one coaching for both monologues and scenes, accompanied by general advice about the craft of acting. Lohman's most recent enterprise shows no sign of slowing, as she continues to advertise her coaching services on her Twitter account. While she may be taking a break from her own acting career, she has seemingly switched gears and hopes to help other young actors improve their skills by sharing her knowledge and expertise.