Thursday, April 11, 2013

WHERE WAS MY STRONG FEMALE IN THE EVIL DEAD REMAKE?

ATTENTION: MILD SPOILERS AHEAD 

Considering Evil Dead has been out for nearly a week, there are more than plenty of reviews of the film floating around the internet.  For inquiring minds, I found the film to be really fun but not without its problems. While the film gave me plenty of moments of squirming in my seat and uproarious laughter, there was a major issue that clouded my entire view of the film.  Where the hell was this strong female character I had been promised?  For weeks leading up to the film's premiere, I had been flooded with media outlets claiming their was a strong female lead guaranteeing that I would love this new storyline.  I'll admit, one of the major reasons I was okay with the remake news was that if I couldn't get Ashley J. Williams, I'd at least get a strong heroine.  After Jane Levy was announced as the primary character for the film, I was absolutely ecstatic.  Jane Levy plays a strong-willed character on Suburgatory and I was definitely pumped to see her portray a similar character within the world of Tennessee demon cabins.  As the film progressed, it became obvious very quickly that I had been lied to. This powerful female lead, this "Lady-Ash" everyone kept spouting on about simply didn't exist.  I am not sure if I saw the same film as my colleagues, but there is no empowering female character within the confines of this film at all.

Jane Levy delivered an incredibly strong performance and I will not deny her of that.  This major criticism comes from Fede Alvarez's story and the false advertising attached to the film's marketing campaign. Ridding an Evil Dead film of Ash was risky enough, but to add in a female protagonist was revolutionary.  After hearing the praises of her performance from those who saw Evil Dead during its festival run and ensuring me "she's got a pretty awesome one-liner and some badass kill sequences," I was almost immediately set on Jane Levy's "Mia" becoming my new favorite horror idol.  Sadly, I was very much mislead and mistaken. Are Mia's kill sequences bad-ass? Yes. Is Mia a final girl? Sort of. Is Mia's one-liner awesome? Yes. Is Mia an empowering female character? No. Not even close.  Even from the trailers and publicity photos, it's very clear that Jane Levy is not only the same character we are told is to be the "Lady Ash," but also the character with the "Cheryl-like" deadite transformation from the original film, down to the cellar door isolation and tree rape.  This bad-ass girl protagonist was the first to become a deadite and spent 90% of the film being a troubled girl.  Pre-deadite Mia is a recovering drug addict going through withdrawal and being a major pain in the dick, deadite Mia is a manipulative slimeball, and this leads us to the final ten minutes of the film.  For nearly an hour and a half, this supposed bad-ass shows no sign of being a strong female character in a horror film.

But wait, doesn't she come back as 'cured' and then saves the world from the evil superdeadite?  Yes, hypothetical naysayer, she does come back! Lest we forget, the only reason it's possible for her to come back was because A MAN SAVED HER.  Oh boy! The female bad-ass is only capable of being a bad-ass because her strong, protective big brother buried her deadite ass alive and then brought her back with a hastily made defibrillator!  Had it not been for this man, Mia would still be a deadite and the entire world would have been consumed by evil, demonic forces from the other world. Once, just once, can we please get a female protagonist that doesn't need constant saving or the assistance of a man to be great?  Even characters like Alice from Resident Evil are only powerful because a man installed some weird computer programming DNA enhancements to make her powerful.  The closest thing women have is Ripley in Alien but one truly strong female character in a genre that cranks out hundreds of films of year is an absolute disgrace. Fede Alvarez had the potential to do something completely out of this world and revolutionary with the Mia character, and completely dropped the ball.  The film has gone on to take top box-office placements and has been a huge success, and that's with advertisements still making it seem as if audiences are getting a bad-ass female lead, proving that audiences really don't give a shit what the hero has between their legs. Even if they continue on with these films as a series and show Mia to be the "Lady-Ash" we've been promised, it won't change the fact that the only reason Mia is around to be a "Lady-Ash" in the first place, is because a man took the time to save her from evil...because of course, how could a woman do anything without the aide of a man?

10 comment(s):

DrSteggy said...

I very much enjoyed this movie and was glad it wasn't a shot for shot remake of the original-but I did get to the end and go "oh, wait, where was female Ash?" :/

Anonymous said...

I didn't see it as a man saving a woman. I saw it as her cowardly brother FINALLY standing up and being there when it really counted. The role of absentee sibling could have just as easily been a sister. Also, Ash didn't really become Ash till the second movie. All he did in the first one was survive. I don't know where people would get the idea that Mia is a 'girl Ash'.

DrunkethWizerd said...

Just want to say that I also didn't see it as a "man" saving a "woman"... sure, everything was horrible and the story lacked a lot of substance (with total gore substitute), but I'm not really getting your point this time around.

The brother figure in this movie was portrayed as a total bitch, unable to deal with anything life related. And while everyone else was stoned and/or just dumb, the sister was going through shit. If anything it's more of a brother/sister bonding film, and from that I you shouldn't even get "man saving women".

In fact, by the end of the film, you see how much turmoil there is in this guy's soul that him actually dying for her to live, is pretty much like HER saving HIM! Subtle touches, if I may say so myself.

There's no sexism in this movie except for the blonde girlfriend getting no lines for half the movie and then we're expected to care about her. Meh.

Anonymous said...

It's even worse than that - the gender parity in the movie is damn ugly when compared to the original.

Will Alvarez have the courage to actually let Mia Do Her Thing in the sequel, that's my question.

Fred [The Wolf] said...

I had more of an issue with the girlfriend character just being there and doing nothing for half the movie. But I do see your point somewhat. I'm hoping Mia will be more of a bad ass in the sequel.

The Mike said...

I thought it was a great characrer, but see your point with the advertising. One thing I kept in mind is that there's little-to-no "hero Ash" in The Evil Dead - most of what people love about Bruce's Ash is in 2 and AoD - so it makes sense that she's not there yet in this film. I wonder if we're going to see the strong "Lady Ash" in the sequels, but the rumored original ending that's floating around leans the other way.

It will be interesting to see where they go. As is it's true that they missed the strong heroine mark here, but I'm patiently waiting to see what they do next.

Anonymous said...

The thing is, most horror movues don't have superheroes and badasses as the main characters- it's not wish fulfillment like an action movie. The characters are supposed to be realistic, so neither the guys OR the girls usually kick much ass- they usually just freak out and die until finally one of them pulls it together and musters up the strength and courage to fight back and defeat the killer or at least survive. This is usually a female who does this.
This more realistic approach is more empowering to me, to see a normal person stand up and fight back against something horrific, than if we had some super action chic just effortlessly kick ass. Come to think of it, the 'Evil Dead' movies are the only horror movies I can think of where it's a male who actually pulls it together and defeats the monsters. So I don't really understand you getting that disappointed by ot- they took the only big horror series that actually had a man with the strength and guts to stand up and make to the end (instead of a girl like all the others) and changed it to a girl (like all the others). It was even a female (Diablo Cody, who I don't believe has ever heard of a cliche she didn't include in a movie) who wrote this one.
I often agree with your rants, but I don't really see this one. If it was action movies you were talking about, I could see it (Kill Bills aside), but not really horror movies. Their audience might not be that enlightened (for the most part), but I find them refreshingly and continually empowering to females (of which I am one).
Thanks for listening.

BJ-C said...

I think what a large amount of people are missing is that I'm more upset that I felt "tricked" by the marketing campaign. IF they had advertised this film as anything but having a female action hero during its "buzz weeks" I would have been okay with it. However, the fact the publicity kept saying "female ash, female bad-ass" and didn't deliver, I feel weird because if this is what they deep "empowering" they're off.

Josh said...

Scream has a strong female lead...just saying.

Anonymous said...

It does suck when the marketing is misleading. The only marketing I saw was a couple of posters and the red band trailer. I knew they weren't going to do an Ash character. I'm sure you probably do a lot more research than I do, but I purposely went in without expectations, and I enjoyed the movie immensely. Mia got the be the main antagonist AND the 'final girl'. I can't remember ever seeing that in a movie. She can always turn into the swaggering hero in the sequel. That's how the original series played out. Ash didn't become Ash until ED2.

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