Evil Dead (2013) and the Abject Final Girl

Evil Dead (2013) is your typical horror movie. It is a supernatural horror film with elements like witchcraft and demonic possessions, based on a previous Evil Dead film series released in the 1980s.  Nothing about it does not speak horror. It adheres faithfully to a task of satisfying the expectations of an audience when it comes to the horror film elements. According to Graham Sleight, there are six ways by which we can understand the horror genre (trope, effect, architecture, moves, tradition, and marketing). Evil Dead satisfies all of them.

The film is about Mia Allen’s recovery from her heroin addiction. She was with her brother, David Allen, her brother’s girlfriend, Natalie, and their friends: Eric and Olivia. The plan was to stay in the Allen family cabin in the woods until Mia overcomes her addiction. During their stay, a certain turn of events allowed the demon to be unleashed unto the group in that suddenly, they find themselves no longer trying to overcome Mia’s addiction but the demon itself.

Some people might find the film too formulaic and predictable, nonetheless I think that sometimes we (as audience) do somehow crave that faithfulness to the formula in some horror films. Arguably, this predictability diminishes a film’s scariness or effect; but some nicely executed films can still be effective even if predictable. The audience (if they do not have prior knowledge of the film) can only predict moves or plot turns in a general sense. The film can still “outwit” the audience by focusing on the particular plot elements unique in the film (for instance, the uniqueness of the monster or of the victim’s character). I think Evil Dead played with that rather nicely. In addition, the use of the gore elements are also very effective in enhancing these effect.

(Warning: The succeeding discussion contains spoilers.)

 

Evil Dead somewhat has a slasher-film feel to it (despite not necessarily being slasher in nature) in that the characters are victimized one-by-one, until a final victim remains to confront the monster. Usually, slasher films highlight the concept of a Final Girl, as described by Carol Clover. Feminine characters are likely to be victimized in literature because of the stereotype on their weakness and frailty. The concept of the Final Girl is from the trend typically seen in slasher, where a feminine character – preferably the weakest one among the group – is left behind for a final confrontation with the monster. In one sense, it is effective because letting the weakest character terrorized and victimized for the longest duration and, on top of that, leaving her to deal with the monster in the final and biggest confrontation in the film is an effective strategy in terrorizing (bringing horror onto) the audience, apparently. However, on another level, the Final Girl is also effective in the sense that the weakest and most “feminine” character is forced to take upon a masculine role of fighting the monster – since she would have no one else to rely on but herself.

In Evil Dead, it is very clear that the Final Girl is Mia. She was the first victim, as the possessed; but she was also the final victim who was forced to take a hero role. In the group, she seemed like the weakest in physique and in morale (due to her heroin addiction); which is why her taking up a hero role definitely adds a surprise factor in the film.

The Mia character can also be discussed in the context of abjection. She was the most abject character. First because of her addiction; then because of her possession. She was abject as a result of her failure to reject the abject (heroin and the demon). However, Barbara Creed also adds that the only way to overcome abjection is by a direct, full confrontation of the abject: which Mia does in the final confrontation with the demon. As such, the movie integrates smoothly both the concept of the Final Girl and abjection.

 

References

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

Graham Sleight. “Storying Genres.” Vector Magazine, n.d.

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