If there was one movie I was excited for other than It Follows, it had to be Evil Dead (2013). As a horror film enthusiast, I always check out and look at reviews of the mainstream horror films. Although Evil Dead didn’t have the highest reviews (especially because it was a remake of the original, giving it high standards), I can safely say that after watching it, it was the best and most entertaining film out of all that have been shown so far in class. It Follows is a close second to this gory, supernatural, slasher-flick, which was wildly entertaining from start to finish. There was no dead air throughout the movie; it was one that was not for the faint of heart. If you are squeamish, prepare yourself for some pull-your-arm-off-since-it’s-stuck-under-a-car action, because it will really hit you hard with the gross.
Evil Dead has a very simple plot. It is a vanilla horror film: a group of stereotypical friends sets up shop in an old, rarely-visited cabin which has a lot of secrets buried. From here, the friends aim to help Mia (Jane Levy) the sister of David (Shiloh Fernandez), get over a drug addiction problem. Then, the story gets out of hand after the supernatural – in the form of a witch story – takes over Mia, who then torments the entire group. Given this very basic set-up, what kind of is refreshing about this movie is not only its crazy goriness, but the shocking turn of events that happens towards the end of the film.
Throughout the film, I thought that Mia was a lost cause after being possessed by the monster. Moreover, I was led to believe that the movie would end with the scene where David buried her down beneath the ground to purge her of the monster. When he successfully raised her – which, for me, was a very odd move because of how risky it was – from the dead, I was a hundred percent certain that she was playing tricks with him and was still possessed. I was waiting for the time David would turn his back, only to be stabbed from behind or bitten by Mia. To my surprise, it never happened. Turns out, Mia ended up being not only the biggest villain, but the biggest hero of the whole story.
In Carol J. Clover’s article entitled, “Her body, himself: Gender in the slasher film,” she calls this phenomena “The Final Girl.” She describes the final girl as a psychologically-developed character who lives throughout entire select slasher films through her intelligence and watchfulness. She is a hero that audiences tended to identify with, regardless of gender, and eventually support to triumph. Mia, in my mind, did not come off as such a character because she seemed like she had no hope whatsoever. There were no indications that she would indeed become the film’s heroine, even when she was purged of the curse. Turns out, upon further inspection, she does have the elements of the Final Girl.
From the start of film, her character had been developed. From her introduction to a drug-addict to slight revelations of her relationship to her brother and family, she was always the focus of the film. She displayed the qualities of a heroine, albeit late, in her final encounter with the movie’s last possessed one. She displayed intelligence and courage in dealing with him, even doing the unthinkable and pulling off her entire arm after it was fallen on by a car. She fearlessly took on the challenge and seemed un-phased by the appearance of the monster, as she handled a chainsaw like she was a born lumberjack, sawing through it vertically. This unrealistic switch from panicky, recovering drug addict to chainsaw-wielding heroine was a quick and weird one, but hey, it satisfies the criteria for he to be a Final Girl. More importantly, it made the movie fun. The audience just was not able to see this because her true nature was hidden behind the veil of what turned out to be the movie’s main monster.
If there is one movie from this entire class I will not forget, it will definitely by Evil Dead. This is the type of horror film I expected to view each time in class. It was exciting, and drew a lot of shrieks and screams from the audience. At the same time, it was nice to see that it is more than just a crowd-pleasing gore-fest, as it showcases an important element of the female lead.
Janovich, M. (2002). Horror, The Film Reader. London: Routledge.