Out of all of the films we’ve seen in class, Evil Dead was the movie that scared me the most. Sir mentioned that it was the most mainstream horror movie he’ll show in class. It was different from the movies we’ve watched so far because in the previous ones, not every scene is intense and scary. But for Evil Dead, I was shaking in my seat from fear from start to finish. It did not waste time in capturing the viewer’s attention because the opening scene itself was terrifying. I remember telling my seatmates that I wanted it to be over already but it was just about 5 minutes into the film.
I’ve watched the trailer for Evil Dead before because my cousin showed it to me. We both like to watch horror films and she said that the trailer of Evil Dead scared her so much. Normally, I can handle movies about ghosts and the supernatural, but what I can’t take are slasher films because of the gore and violence. Also, these are the films that I feel can happen in real life. Movies like the Final Destination franchise never fail to make me paranoid. What if that happened to me and my friends in real life? I probably would be part of the people who die at the start because of lack of survival skills. So when my cousin showed me the trailer for Evil Dead, I honestly couldn’t finish watching it because it was too intense for me to handle.
Evil Dead is a slasher film and in Carol Clover’s article, she enumerates some of the elements of slasher films. The first is that the killer comes from a dysfunctional family. In Evil Dead, Mia becomes the killer after she was subdued by the demon. In the movie, we learn that Mia and David have an estranged relationship. Mia was the only one who took care of their mother before she died. Mia is also suffering from drug addiction. Secondly, there is the presence of a beautiful and sexual woman who is usually the one victimized. In the film, Mia was portrayed as weak and incapable of being sober. Her weakness was probably the reason why she was possessed as spirits usually target those who are weak-willed. Thirdly, slasher films usually occur in an isolated setting in which case, the setting for the movie is a cabin in the woods. Fourth, victims use a weapon that is not a gun in pursuing the killer who is attacking them. In this case, David and his friends used different methods to try to stop Mia from killing them. Lastly, slasher films use the victim’s point of view. In Evil Dead, we get to see the perspective of Olivia, Natalie, Eric and David as they encounter the violent and possessed Mia. Before Mia was possessed in the woods, we also see from her point of view. This makes it all the more terrifying because it makes us feel like we are the ones being pursued.
Carol Clover also talks about the “final girl” wherein a girl character is usually the last survivor left to confront the killer. At the start of the film, Mia was portrayed as the weak and defenseless one among their group of friends. However, as the film progressed, she showed that she was masculine enough to save herself from the demon. She fought until the end and ultimately, she (barely) survived. Mia can be considered as the female victim-hero, who endured her state as a victim but intelligently found a way to survive. In traditional slasher films, this is contrasted to the killers who are almost always male characters and females are seen as the victim. But in Evil Dead, Mia herself became the villain before David successfully took the demon out of her.
In Evil Dead, there is shift of POV, because at the beginning, we watch the film from the killer’s perspective. But at the end, we see from the final girl’s perspective. This shift in perspective makes us root for the final girl. From wanting her to be killed, we now want her to survive.
Watching Evil Dead in class was actually enjoyable. I didn’t expect that to love it this much. But afterwards, I felt like I would be having nightmares about the movie, particularly about Mia’s horrifying face. When I was looking around at my classmates, everyone was covering their face or were huddled close to one another in fear. I liked David and Mia’s brother-sister relationship. It was refreshing to see that David still wanted to make it up to Mia after all these years. Even if the possessed Mia was tormenting him and all of their friends, he didn’t want to kill her and found a way to stop her from being possessed without taking her life. I was so devastated when he died in the end because I really wanted them to repair their broken relationship. I enjoyed watching the film because it will really get you hooked. There were a lot of scenes where I thought that it was already the end but then something shocking and even scarier will happen. It was tiring to watch but it was totally worth it.
Source: Carol J. Clover, “Her Body, Himself: Gender in the Slasher Film.” Horror, The Film Reader (Routledge, 2002)