Evil dead is obviously a slasher film. A slasher film is a sub-genre to Horror Films. It peaked during the 1970s-1980s. There is usually a formula to know if a film is a slasher film. First, “the killer comes from a dysfunctional family.” In this case, the killer is Mia. She, herself is dysfunctional. She is a drug addict. Next, the woman is beautiful and sexual. Mia is undeniably attractive. Third, there is an isolated setting. The setting of the movie was in a cabin in the woods. Obviously, it was just Mia and her friends that are in the area. Fourth is “the weapon that is not a gun.” In this movie, the weapon to beat the monster is the process of purification like burying Mia alive, burning her body, and dismembering her body. Lastly, it uses the victim’s point of view. The movie showed how Mia is suffering throughout the possession. We feel her pain. Slasher films often have killers who are “recognizably human and distinctly male” (Clover). Although the demon in the movie cannot be clearly distinguished as male, its characteristics are distinctively male. The act of “possessing” the body of the female body shows penetration that is an inherently male characteristic.
Unlike the movie “It Follows”, there is a dialogue between the monster (demon) and the victim (Mia). The movie stuck to the convention of having The Final Girl as an attempt to show that it is not a sexist movie. The concept of the Final Girl is coined by Carol Clover. She defined it as “the last character left alive to confront the killer.” Usually, the Final Girl is a brunette because brunettes give off the impression of a tough woman. In addition to that, the males in the audience are forced to identify with the women in the climax of the movie. This is because slasher films deal with cross-gender identification that ultimately leads to the transformation of the female protagonist from victim (feminine) to hero (masculine) at the end of the film. This was seen when Mia was the only one left after his brother burned with the cabin. She was able to face the monster alone. She became a fighter in which she was able to beat the demon (monster). The final girl “mans” herself, while she “unmans” her oppressor’s masculinity. After being through agonizing trials as the victim, Mia becomes the hero in the end because she is able to succeed in beating the monster.
Linda Williams posed a question, why do women like watching horror films when the women are terrorized? While watching a horror film like Evil Dead, there is empathy in which we feel for what the victims are feeling, but at the same time, we want the monster to win. In a sense, all of us have a sadistic tendency in the manifestation of the gaze or wanting to look. We feel that the only way to bring justice to a horror movie is for the monster to win. The victims have to be helpless in order for that to happen. However, in the move, when the female victims look at the monster, she is punished. Clover introduces an idea where sexes betray their own sex. For example, I liked the fact that Mia got possessed by the demon because I think that it gives justice to the movie’s storyline. It would not have been that satisfying if the David is the one possessed. There is a certain damsel-in-distress aura if the girl is possessed in the movie. Demonic possession was the subject in the film. Aside from spiritual possession, this also portrays how a woman loses control over herself. This is a phase where she allows violation and objectification of herself. For example, Mia allowed herself to be possessed by the demon when she was not fighting it. This was seen in the part where Mia is showering in hot water without seemingly minding the pain.
Body dismemberment was seen all throughout the film. This is abjection because bodily fluids should stay inside the body. This goes beyond borders of comfort and makes people squeamish. People, normally, have a tendency for self-preservation. They do not want to hurt themselves. However, it was seen in the movie that due to the demonic possession, they actually craved for pain and body dismemberment. There was a scene where Mia cut off her arm in order to stop the “demonic fluid” from spreading all over her body. Aside from this, Mia herself is an abject. She is a drug addict and a possessed. This is the reason for the need for her purification. “The confrontation of the abject in order to eject the abject and re-draw the boundaries between the human and non-human” (Elsässer and Hagener, 2015).
To conclude, I liked Evil Dead because of its ending. It gave power to the almost-always weak woman in the genre. Mia was able to fight the monster on her own. I liked how she transformed herself to someone who is capable of being strong.
Elsässer, T. and Hagener, M. (2015). Film Theory. 1st ed. Florence: Taylor and Francis, p.132.
Carol J. Clover, “Her body, himself: Gender in the slasher ﬁlm.” Horror, The Film Reader (Routledge, 2002).