The Evil Dead’s Gender Swapping Hero/Heroin

I am an Evil Dead fan. My favorite among the Evil Dead movies is “The Evil Dead: Army of Darkness”. I find comfort it is absurdness, violence, and good vs evil themed story. Though, I admit that it has been a while since I’ve watched an Evil Dead movie except for the 2013 reboot which we recently watched in class. I will try my best to give justice to this wonderful franchise, but at the same time give my own take on the it. To give a clear framework, I’ll be speaking about the 2013 reboot with some comparison with the first Evil Dead Movie, while adding my own interpretations driven by my emotions.

In Carol J. Clover’s “Her Body, Himself: Gender in the Slasher Film”. She talks about how the Final Girl is more of a male character in which she is the “vehicle in which the sadomasochistic tendencies of the male are satisfied.” With that we will observe the main protagonist of 2013’s Evil Dead, Mia.

Ash vs Mia. The first Evil Dead movie had a male protagonist, Ash short for Ashley. He bears quite a feminine name, and if I were to include feminine characteristics, he is more feminine than the other male character in the group. He is also shown to be hesitant to do anything, and is quite emotional. Mia, on the other hand, is a female character, though to be honest I originally expected David to be the main protagonist, which I was proven wrong later as I find out he dies in a blaze of glory.

Ash is sweet, caring, hesitant to hurt, always just staring. His character is very much female if we took very stereotypical and sexist stand on this movie (the first Evil Dead movie). We see the conflict he goes through as he thinks whether he should kill his “turned” friends or if there is still a chance of redemption. He is also seen as the submissive one when compared to the other male character, who is shown to be very masculine, being sexually active, obnoxious, forcing, willing to bring the hurt.

Mia, is quite the opposite. If Ash was a male character made female, Mia would be a female character made male. She did not require a witty name change, or at least they didn’t do that with her. Mia, from the very start wasn’t very female. Normally the junkie in movies would be this hippie male character, sporting long blonde hair, laid back, care free, and later getting killed because of his care free nature. Mia is edgy. She is scared, she fights backs, and knows about the imminent danger. Much like the first Evil Dead movie, it was the sister who insisted to leave. It was the sister who was first possessed. But it wasn’t the sister who fought back.

In this version, the sister fought back, and she did more fighting than the brother. David fulfilled the parts of Ash, hesitant, caring, loving, but later was shown to be able to fight back. I was mind blown when he had to die, and it was Mia who was the Final Girl, and main protagonist. To defend her being main protagonist, she had the most development, and if you were to plot the arch it would make sense. Junkie Mia > Possessed Mia > Redemption Mia > Mia the hero and demon slayer, compared to David the Absent > David the Caring > David the Hesitant > David the Hero. There was more satisfaction in having Mia finish the demon off than it was David, though to be honest I was also feeling excitement when David pulled a Bruce Campbell.

I digress, let us take a step by step look at Mia. At the very beginning we are given a vulnerable troubled girl, Mia. Who seeks help from her friends and her BROTHER. A trustworthy male character who is there to hold her hand, and get her out from her troubled self. In here we already see the gender stereotypes. A female needs a male to feel safe. One may argue that it is more of a sibling thing than a gender thing, considering that they are the only family left. Is it not a satisfying site to see two siblings having each other’s back? We take delight in seeing David comfort his troubled sister, and even more so when we think it is a redemption story for David. Later, we see the struggle David must go through as he thinks that Mia is crazy, after all she is a junkie. This misconception lead to Mia being literally and metaphorically penetrated by the “evil” in the movie.

Once the evil penetrates Mia, there a sense of sexual pleasure and at the same time disgust of witnessing this female made vulnerable and she is slowly penetrated. After the forced penetration, we have her dominated by the “evil” which is quite like what happens to women when they are raped by men. They are silenced and put under the power of the male. This is a sadistic satisfaction.

Almost, throughout the movie we have Mia possessed with something that is genderless, but can be observed to have masculine features. The best example here is when possessed Mia is forced unto Natalie. This is scene is weird. We can see so many things in this scene, girl to girl action, bodily fluids, sexual harassment, self-harm, and a demonic sexual drive which leads to “reproduction” in a sense that a new possessed is born. In this sense Mia is an impregnator. David at this point, however, is constantly falling behind, suffering as a victim to something far superior to him.

Throughout the film, we see people constantly being “raped” by Mia, impregnating them with the “evil”. Mia, here is the ultimate masculine figure, while the rest suffer and try to fend off when they are only delaying what is imminent.

Once Mia is cleansed, we see her buried in the ground. A womb like place. Clover mentions how the Killer is kept hidden in a womb like place until the Final girl finds her way there to defeat this great evil. Later, the abomination is born from the ground, like a baby emerging from its mother’s vagina, head first, well, hand first. This abomination however is killed off by Mia. Mia fulfills her role as the Final girl through her castration of the monster.

To summarize Mia was feminine at the start, though not quite feminine. She was as feminine as her vulnerability and the moment of her defilement. David was more feminine in his stance in the whole movie. Ash, the protag of the first Evil Dead movie is male but was also feminine at the start, who was the “Final Girl” bearing a female name yet shortened to sound more masculine, “Ash”. Mia, as the possessed gained the masculine hold as she dominated, killed, raped, and impregnated everyone else. David reverting to his masculine self as being the male character who saves the Final girl through means of sacrifice. And at the final scene we find Mia castrating the monster, Ash castrating the monster, left alone and triumphant.

 

P.S. This isn’t included in my point here but I like what they did with the Book of the Dead. They had Eric burn it, and it didn’t work. In the first Evil Dead, that was the solution to the whole problem, just burn the book. It immediately showed here that we are dealing with something completely new, something scarier and harder to beat.

 

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