Evil Dead (2013) is perhaps one of the most popular and most stereotypical horror films given in this class. Personally, I liked its conventionality but found it hard to watch because of how bloody the film was. Nevertheless, Evil Dead is still a good horror film all in all.
The premise of Evil Dead is similar to other mainstream or conventional horror films. It starts off with a horrifying event involving—witches. It also involves the formulaic character tropes found in films such as the dumb blonde, the emo girl, and the like. Furthermore, what sets Evil Dead apart from the other horror movies presented in class was the presence of an indestructible object and the source of evil- the cursed book.
In the other horror films that we’ve seen in class, the source of evil was a woman (e.g., Autopsy of Jane Doe, Deadgirl). In the Evil Dead, the source of evil was a cursed book, but in the first few frames of the film, the object of evil was a girl. However, as the film went on, it rendered the monster as genderless, feeding on the fears of both the male and female characters.
Moreover, Evil Dead is a slasher film banking on body horror. The mutilation of the body was a highlight of the film. It was consistent all throughout the movie. In the beginning, the burning and the penetration of the young girl’s body was shown. It was then followed by the different deaths of the characters. From chainsaws to nails, almost everything was used by the devil as a tool for death. The way the characters died definitely gave justice to the meaning of ‘body horror.’ Furthermore, the setting of the film- an isolated cabin in the middle of an eerie forest – was also quite conventional. The setting was similar to the way haunted mansions or creepy houses are found in other horror films.
According to an article by Clover (2002) entitled, “Her body, himself: Gender in the slasher film,” “the one character of stature who does live to tell the tale is of course female. The ‘final girl’ is introduced at the beginning and is the only character to be developed in any psychological detail” (p. 79). In the Evil Dead, Cheryl is the ‘final girl’. From the beginning, she was portrayed as the problematic character. She was likewise the main reason why they had to go to the cabin in the first place, because she had to get over her drug problem. Among the many characters in the film, she was the one who had a steady character development. From being a vulnerable and naïve little girl, she was able to assert and save herself in the end, even if she had no one left but herself.
Earlier, it was mentioned that at first, the monster was seen as a woman but as the movie progressed, it was rendered as genderless. This is because in film, “gender is less a wall than a permeable membrane” (Clover, 2002, p. 80). This refers to the fluidity of the monster’s gender. According to Clover (2002), “slasher killers have much in common with the monster of classic horror—monsters who not just represent an eruption of the normally repressed animal sexual energy of the civilized male but also the power and potency of a non-phallic sexuality” (p. 80). This is likewise manifested in the Evil Dead by pitting the monster against the ‘final girl.’ Moreover, the gender of the ‘final girl’ is also put into question because of the ‘active investigating gaze,’ which means that the ‘final girl’ is punished when she assumes the ‘male gaze.’ This was evident in Cheryl’s actions when she actively looks for the monster and when she does not stop until she is able to kill the monster. Furthermore, this highlights a similarity between the monster and the ‘final girl’—sexual repression. All the sexually repressed energy of the monster and the ‘final girl’ was manifested and shown through the horrible deaths in Evil Dead.
In the last few scenes of the film, when the ‘final girl’ was finally able to kill off the monster, “darkness yields to light (often as day breaks) and the close quarters of the barn (closet, elevator, attic, basement) give way to the open expanse of the yard (field, road, lakescape, cliff)” (Clover, 2002, p. 81). In the case of Evil Dead, the ‘final girl’ was seen standing outside the ashes of the burnt cabin, tired from her victory over the monster, while the last few drops of ‘rain blood’ give way to the rays of the sun. Indeed, an astounding finish to an overall delightfully horrific film.
Source: Janovich, M. (2002). Horror, The Film Reader. London: Routledge.