Mia is Out to Conquer Evil and the Dead

I have watched Evil Dead (2013) before and I had really liked it even then. Now upon re-watching, I was reminded of why I loved this. Despite being utterly scary, it had other elements to it which made the whole movie work. It seemed like a slasher film, a sub-genre of horror. Mia (played by Jane Levy) was the Final Girl or the last character left alive to confront the killer, despite being the victim of earlier on. She was a victim in many aspects: of drug addiction, a broken and dysfunctional family, and of the devilish being that Mia and friends had stumbled upon their cabin. Mia was another brunette, like most of the other Final Girls, used to contrast the blonde girl stereotype, and in this movie the blondie was Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore).

Mia’s being a victim had her becoming the villain and the hero all in the same movie. Her background as a drug addict and having come from a dysfunctional family could be grounds for the devil being attracted to her. And so, she got possessed. Here starts her killing spree as a “slasher” like in any slasher film. In addition to her background as a victim, the other friends’ point of view as the victims of Mia, she was a beautiful and sexual woman, the gang was in an isolated setting, and the weapon was not just a gun—okay, this might be a slasher film. At some point she just really lost herself to the demon and the devil-possessed Mia was ready to kill everyone. But by the latter parts with the help mostly by her brother David (played by Shiloh Fernandez) who was a man, she was reverted back into human, normal self Mia. David here may have seemed like the hero, as in most movies where a man is the hero. But really, he was not and I think it was by a stroke of luck that he was even able to do anything (all the other times even from the family history, he was a coward). Slasher films mostly dealt with cross-gender identification leading to the transformation of the Final Girl.

The female protagonist Mia had transformed from being the victim and the villain to being the hero. By the end she was the one who was able to put an end to the demon.

Feast on this, motherfucker!

She said. How purely and utterly badass.

As women were usually victims in horror films, Mia denied that stereotype and succeeded in being a great Final Girl, especially with the weapon of her choice: the chainsaw. She was the female victim here on Evil Dead. Though a female, she had been reconstituted into a predominantly masculine role in being the hero. What made it masculine was that she looked for the killer, looked at the killer, fought the killer, and saved herself. But not only did she man herself, she unmanned her oppressor’s masculinity. The demon sounded like a guy, after all.

The real males in the story, meanwhile, were deemed weak and died earlier on. They were unlike the usual male heroes in most movies. Eric (played by Lou Taylor Pucci), especially; he was the one who unleashed the demon. It was all his fault. Stupid. Mia did not even need his or David’s presence to survive.

With Mia’s shift from being the victim, the demonic killer, and the hero, she had established herself as the Final Girl. But Clover concluded that the Final Girl is not a feminist character but rather is present for the male spectator. I would like to agree—she is present for the male spectator as a vehicle for his own sadomasochistic fantasies. Twisted but kind of hard to disagree on this one.

While Evil Dead may had seemed like a great slasher film, it was not. It was only by its structure that was driven by trope conventions typical of slasher genre that it looked like a slasher film. I think it was because it dealt with some supernatural and demonic aspects that it could not be called a slasher film. But overall I really loved the film, especially the character of Mia. Complex and crazy. Some really great butt-kicking scenes were here and really thrilling parts. Technically, Evil Dead was excellently made and the effects were realistic. I had no problems with these at all. I have yet to watch the older version, but I am willing to bet it is equally as great as this modern remake. Even though technology was not as advanced back then, I think the plot would make up for that and still deliver a bloody good horror movie.

Source: Carol J. Clover, “Her body, himself: Gender in the slasher film.” Horror, The Film Reader (Routledge, 2002).

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