Deeply Rooted

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The first time I encountered this movie was when I watched Scary Movie 5. I believed it was spoofed in that movie; one of the scenes in the cabin when everyone was getting possessed and the book was being read. On a serious note the movie revolved around friends who went on a trip in a remote cabin to help Mia get rid of her drug addiction. One of her friends, Eric finds a book of the Dead and reads it a loud, slowly saying what he was shading. The film started zooming in and out of the forest to a girl standing by the trees in a dress. Without him knowing that he was awakening a demon.

 

Mia’s character for me seemed to be troubled from the beginning and it was no surprise to me that she got possessed first. The scene wherein she forcefully left the house with car and saw the girl for me was the beginning the end. She saw the girl again and she ended up getting strangled by the roots of a tree facing the girl. The girl released some black substance that entered Anna.

 

The movie was deeply rooted in the friendship however their personalities clash. All of them had the same goal in the beginning and that is to help Anna. In the end all of them got possessed and one by one got killed in the brutal way. Although the biggest plot twist was her friend revived Anna after getting electrocuted. I think this part made me question how she was able to live after her body getting all possessed.

 

I honestly would recommend this movie to people looking for gore fest type of film and bloody to watch, someone who is interested deeply in exorcism and alike. I personally did not like the movie. It scared me a lot and I did not really understand the overall theme of the film besides everyone getting possessed. The theme is very shallow to me but I like how the movie was able to maximize its cinematography and setting. A suggestion would be to add variety to the frame since its only shot in almost two places.

I have seen several horror films about exorcism but this is certainty not the best for me well mainly because I did not comprehend the whole story. Maybe I can watch it again or watch the 1981 version.

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Evil Dead: A Blockbuster Ballbuster

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This film was the most enjoyable to watch with the entire class because of all the jump scares and the chase between the monster and the final girl.

Putting it side by side with Cabin in the Woods, it’s essentially the same movie only Cabin was sort of a parody on Evil Dead. I really enjoyed both films because although they both have the cliche plots, it’s still the kind of film that would be entertaining no matter how predictable the story may be. Honestly, these are the kinds of films to watch on a cozy night in with your barkada if you are looking to find some excitement while staying indoors.

Of course, everyone would agree that the guy with the glasses was at fault for even trying to pry open that demonic “bible” of sorts but I think the only wrong move he had done was to actually say it out loud. I don’t think a sound-minded guy would want to recite those things, and instead would be researching about them online before doing anything with them. Probably an archeologist would not be bashed for uncovering a dangerous book but the mere action of saying the words out loud just puts the poor guy in a compromising place. Throughout the movie, Mia was the annoying focus of the whole film, one would think that her brother would be the “final girl” since it would be an emotional tug at the audience if the sister herself would kill the brother and the brother would be powerless if tasked to kill his own sister. I have not seen the original film but assuming that it followed the same plot, I enjoyed the twist at the end wherein there was a sudden switch of power with regards to the characters. I liked how Mia, although very annoying as a lead, was able to take charge and I specifically liked her lines in the last few scenes. The part where she has to dislodge her own arm had me digging my nails into my palms but at the same time I felt so ecstatic as I was rooting for her in the end.

Although the film was just another one of those blockbuster horror movies, I think still think that it was pulled off quite well. I’m not too familiar with its reviews online because I didn’t really feel the need to check what the critics had to say because that’s just how much I loved the film. Cliche backstory, setting, plot, and characters but the execution and stylistics are just beyond I have ever hoped for.

I was never into slasher films before but Evil Dead may just be the exception I needed. Kirby mentioned the same idea I had thought of  when she said that the psychopathic killer usually comes from a dysfunctional family, shown with how Mia is an addict who seems desperate with her going clean and yet failing in each attempt she makes. There is also the mention of how her deranged mother had passed without the presence of her brother, making a problematic relationship with her kin all the more a motivation for the demon in her to annihilate her brother with her own hands.

 

Although I am not a huge fan of gore, I think this was portrayed well in the film. Instead of leaving me disgusted and cringing like in the films Dead Girl and May, Evil Dead’s depiction of body dismemberment was artful. It was like the Mad Max of slasher films for me, with the rock music playing in the background and everything.

Side note: I find it kinda funny that the actress in the film reminded me so much of Emma Stone with her expressive eyes and similar features. True enough, her namesake in the film was found in this year’s La La Land lead.

Perfect Horror Formula

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Out of all the movies that we’ve watched so far, this is probably my favourite one from the selection under the horror genre. The composition of elements that went with the storyline was curated in a way that really brought about what I usually expect from a horror movie. From the historical aspect of the demon story that was narrated in the supposed forbidden book, to the unleashing of supernatural element unto the already problematic character, leading towards one by one deaths, and then eventually a followed procedure based on the book as to how to defeat the evil demon that was occupying the body of Mia. It was a classic formula that was integrated in a simple setting, yet still brought about the right amount of fear and jump reactions from the audience.

What I found different about this version of “Evil Dead” (2013) was the fact that the scriptwriters Rodo Sayagues and Fede Alvarez (who also directed the film) , integrated relevant social issues that a lot of younger people face today namely drug abuse. Just like one of the main characters, Mia, who faced a serious addiction problem to the point that she had already experienced an overdose previously which is the main reason behind the whole group planning a trip to her family’s old cabin in order for her to recuperate and hopefully rehabilitate for good this time.  As the demon is awakened by the chanting done by one of the characters Eric, all hell breaks lose and the emotions of the characters are played with.

It’s shown how Mia’s brother David who clearly has guilt about leaving her years ago to take care of their mother is in conflict with accepting the fact that his sister has gotten to such a critical point – partially because of him. Even after all the terrible, unrealistic events occur, from the cutting of Olivia’s face, to his girlfriend Natalie chopping her arm off, and then even Eric explaining all the occurrences that have been happening were parallel to that of what he had discovered in the book from the basement, David still did not want to give up on his Mia. He knew he had to burn his sister’s body in order for the demon to dissolve as well; saving Eric’s and his own life. However, his conscience got the best of him as the demon knew just how to play with his emotions as it directed Mia to sing a lullaby which their mother used to sing to them when they were younger. David devised an alternative way to try and salvage his sister’s soul because deep inside he probably felt that he owed her at least that – even if it could kill him in the process. To my surprise, his plan worked and Mia was brought back to humanity and David then eventually sacrificed his life for hers which made the sad story come in full circle. Not exactly how I expected the story to pan out, but then again the scriptwriters were able to integrate a bit of reality into the supernatural as he tapped into David’s feeling of guilt and seemingly unconditional sibling love. What I liked about it though is that instead of leaving it with a cheesy ending, the mood immediately shifted into a “badass” gory and intense battle between Mia and the creepy girl demon. It was in my opinion a really good recipe for a horror film – one that I was expecting to see in this class from the very beginning of the course.

 

From Carol Clover’s text, she dives into the idea of the “final girl”; giving a perspective of slasher types of films slowly eliminating characters one by one who are victims, then later on having a sort of masculine side as a female become the last one who ends up liberated in the end of the film. It is after her success in defeating the evil when all things become “normal” or as they should be. “She is feminine enough to act out in a gratifying way, a way unapproved for adult males, the terrors and masochistic pleasures of the underlying fantasy, but not so feminine as to disturb the structures of male competence and sexuality” (Clover, 82). This exact quote was seen as Mia was acting as the final girl in Evil Dead. She was able to not only get revived, but fight her way to the finish line and end all the chaos and misery that was occurring throughout the film. I personally really enjoyed the hype and excitement that came along with this slasher kind of horror film, even if a big part of it was supernatural and far from realistic.

 

Reference:

Carol J. Clover, “Her Body, Himself: Gender in the Slasher Film”

Evil Dead: The Final Girl

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Evil Dead (2013) is perhaps one of the most popular and most stereotypical horror films given in this class. Personally, I liked its conventionality but found it hard to watch because of how bloody the film was. Nevertheless, Evil Dead is still a good horror film all in all.

The premise of Evil Dead is similar to other mainstream or conventional horror films. It starts off with a horrifying event involving—witches. It also involves the formulaic character tropes found in films such as the dumb blonde, the emo girl, and the like. Furthermore, what sets Evil Dead apart from the other horror movies presented in class was the presence of an indestructible object and the source of evil- the cursed book.

In the other horror films that we’ve seen in class, the source of evil was a woman (e.g., Autopsy of Jane Doe, Deadgirl). In the Evil Dead, the source of evil was a cursed book, but in the first few frames of the film, the object of evil was a girl. However, as the film went on, it rendered the monster as genderless, feeding on the fears of both the male and female characters.

Moreover, Evil Dead is a slasher film banking on body horror. The mutilation of the body was a highlight of the film. It was consistent all throughout the movie. In the beginning, the burning and the penetration of the young girl’s body was shown. It was then followed by the different deaths of the characters. From chainsaws to nails, almost everything was used by the devil as a tool for death. The way the characters died definitely gave justice to the meaning of ‘body horror.’ Furthermore, the setting of the film- an isolated cabin in the middle of an eerie forest – was also quite conventional. The setting was similar to the way haunted mansions or creepy houses are found in other horror films.

According to an article by Clover (2002) entitled, “Her body, himself: Gender in the slasher film,” “the one character of stature who does live to tell the tale is of course female. The ‘final girl’ is introduced at the beginning and is the only character to be developed in any psychological detail” (p. 79). In the Evil Dead, Cheryl is the ‘final girl’. From the beginning, she was portrayed as the problematic character. She was likewise the main reason why they had to go to the cabin in the first place, because she had to get over her drug problem. Among the many characters in the film, she was the one who had a steady character development. From being a vulnerable and naïve little girl, she was able to assert and save herself in the end, even if she had no one left but herself.

Earlier, it was mentioned that at first, the monster was seen as a woman but as the movie progressed, it was rendered as genderless. This is because in film, “gender is less a wall than a permeable membrane” (Clover, 2002, p. 80). This refers to the fluidity of the monster’s gender. According to Clover (2002), “slasher killers have much in common with the monster of classic horror—monsters who not just represent an eruption of the normally repressed animal sexual energy of the civilized male but also the power and potency of a non-phallic sexuality” (p. 80). This is likewise manifested in the Evil Dead by pitting the monster against the ‘final girl.’ Moreover, the gender of the ‘final girl’ is also put into question because of the ‘active investigating gaze,’ which means that the ‘final girl’ is punished when she assumes the ‘male gaze.’ This was evident in Cheryl’s actions when she actively looks for the monster and when she does not stop until she is able to kill the monster. Furthermore, this highlights a similarity between the monster and the ‘final girl’—sexual repression. All the sexually repressed energy of the monster and the ‘final girl’ was manifested and shown through the horrible deaths in Evil Dead.

In the last few scenes of the film, when the ‘final girl’ was finally able to kill off the monster, “darkness yields to light (often as day breaks) and the close quarters of the barn (closet, elevator, attic, basement) give way to the open expanse of the yard (field, road, lakescape, cliff)” (Clover, 2002, p. 81). In the case of Evil Dead, the ‘final girl’ was seen standing outside the ashes of the burnt cabin, tired from her victory over the monster, while the last few drops of ‘rain blood’ give way to the rays of the sun. Indeed, an astounding finish to an overall delightfully horrific film.

Source: Janovich, M. (2002). Horror, The Film Reader. London: Routledge.