Evil Dead (2013): Female Victim-Hero

We have always heard of horror stories about abandoned places in the forest and cults. Basically, never go into eerie rundown buildings in the middle of the forest and never ever open a book covered in wirings which clearly gives the message “DO NOT OPEN” but you still open it and you see a suspicious book cover, and then the pages have all kinds of warnings all saying “Leave this book alone”. Well, all these things were done by the protagonists of the 2013 remake Evil Dead directed by Fede Álvarez.

The 2013 remake of the 1984 The Evil Dead is very similar to the original with adjustments making it more in sync with recent times. These changes were in the form of how the siblings come from a distraught family, Mia has a heroin addiction, the unkept cabin was owned by their family, and the ending is Mia’s triumph over the Abomination. All the changes made are for the concept of the Final Girl.

Carol J. Clover’s article, “Her body, himself: Gender in Slasher film”, talks about the female body and how she transforms from feminine to masculine in a span of a film that is 1 hour and 32 minutes. With the concept of the Final Girl, however, the male is also involved, specifically, his lack of masculinity. Aside from these concepts, there is another concept that is not from Clover’s article but from Barbara Creed’s “Horror and the Monstrous-feminine: An Imaginary Abjection” that talks about abjection, wherein the subject does or are things that are unnatural to the audience. These concepts are explained further below.

The first concept is the female body. The female body undergoes trials as a victim and emerges as the hero by the end of the film by destroying the antagonists or her oppressors. It all starts with the cross-gender identification wherein the screen female is not a conventional female meaning that she is not just a damsel-in-distress and a victim, and the screen male is less of a masculine than normal. This concept is new because in the original, the movie follows a male gaze, a process used by both males and females where they are made to identify with men and objectify women. Now, screen females are not just victims but can turn into the hero and save themselves. Now you may be thinking that what happens to the other screen females since not all of them can be final girls? 

The final girl can be identified in many ways. A spectator may distinguish the final girl from other screen females as she is the only character in the movie with a perspective that is like ours, the viewers. For example, she is the first character to sense something is amiss like how Mia was the only one that was actually bothered by the smell of dead cats in their basement who the other characters for some reason did not smell and that she wanted to leave after her encounter with a demonic form of herself in the forest. She is also the last character to confront the killer.

The second concept mentioned, the lack of masculinity exhibited by the male is brought about by the transformation of the final girl from feminine to masculine. The notion of masculinity in the movie is how the character seeks out the killer, the character looks at the killer in the eyes, and fights the killer. In the movie, all the characters died except for the final girl who is revealed to be Mia. The one male that exhibited some masculinity before ultimately dying was David, Mia’s older brother. He was the one who saved Mia, and escaped the clutches of the demonic form of Mia with the help of Eric, the one unleashed the demonic activities they have experienced. Mia, the final girl, shows that she does not need males to help her fight off the Abomination because she save herself despite at first being a victim as she was possessed by the demon which further verifies the claim of the final girl becoming a hero from after being a victim.

The last concept, abjection, has two things: Mia as an abject, and “taboos” shown in the film as abjects. First, Mia is an abject because she is a drug addict and as the vessel for the demon to reside in. This is because of the abject threatening to cross the border of good and evil, and of normal and abnormal. Society deems drugs as “evil” and it is not normal. The same with possession by a demon, for the Church this is extremely evil and for society this is unnatural. The film shows a great deal of blood, saliva, mutilation, and bodily fluids which the audience deems as disgusting which is why these are considered images of abjects. The last scene where Mia kills the Abomination is what is called as “Purification of the Abject” this is where the abject is confronted so that the subject will be able to “re-draw” the boundaries between human (Mia) and non-human (Abomination). This idea is also seen when David buried the demonically-possessed Mia to bring back the real and humane Mia.

To conclude, the 2013 remake of Evil Dead is better because it crosses boundaries but still brings you back to the socially-accepted normal world. Despite the final girl saving herself, Clover concludes that the “Final Girl” is not a feminist character but rather is present for the male spectator as a vehicle for his own sadomasochistic fantasies. It still is a patriarchal society, which is, unfortunately, the norm.

 

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