Is the “Final Girl” element really something that should be appealing?
BY STEPHANIE MARTINEZ, STAFF WRITER
There’s no denying it, we love to be scared. The fear of the unknown excites us. That’s why we stay up binge-watching horror movies and race to the theaters to catch the newest horror flick.
These films are meant to be make-believe but they still have a real-life element: The sexualization of women.
Hollywood thrives on taking advantage of women and using them as objects. Generally, in horror films, women are lumped into two categories: Virgins or so-called “sluts.”
Our sexual status is always the theme to determine if we survive or not when there’s a chainsaw maniac out on the loose. The media then takes this up a notch and showcases something disturbing that many horror movies share in common: Female torture.
This is often seen in “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Evil Dead” franchises. Female character deaths are taken to another level compared to their male counterparts. Their deaths are more prolonged and make you squirm in your seat, unlike the male leads just getting a whack to the head or being stabbed brutally.
Adding on to “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” franchise, there is a scene in the original 1974 version where we see the character, Sally Hardesty, played by Marilyn Burns, tied to the dinner table as she is surrounded by the cannibalistic Sawyer family and forced to watch the family taunt her with plates served of her friend’s intestines.
In the 2013 version, we see Alexandra Daddario’s character, Heather Miller, being tied by two cops to be used as bait for Leatherface. Her shirt is open with nothing underneath; the only thing that saves her from Leather is a scar, which is conveniently located on her breast.
In Sam Raimi’s version of “Evil Dead”, we see Ellen Sandweiss’s character violated by a tree. A literal tree. The scene is violently graphic and it leaves me in disgust at how someone could come up with that.
Only after that scene garnered some backlash, Raimi claimed he did not want to offend anyone and said he only wanted to “entertain them“. In the 2013 version, they reused the scene but “toned it down” by making it a hallucination instead of an actual event within the story.
Along with being tortured, they do little to nothing in these scenes, thus sexualizing them even further. Women are in their underwear as they’re trapped in a bear trap, chased through the woods naked and even slaughtered in the shower.
Women are seen as meat by these directors, and it’s sickening to see how normalized the brutality of these films is towards them.
You may argue that this issue shouldn’t be taken so seriously because it’s only make-believe and it’s part of the horror element. It might just be what makes the final girl the final girl. All the blood and torture she has to go through might make her survival seem more meaningful.
When you think of the bloodiest or gnarliest scenes in horror, they always involve women. Maybe this adds to the whole “final girl” element, but sometimes it’s too much. As the years go on, Hollywood has become more and more grotesque in how it treats women in horror movies, especially during the Y2K era.
According to Screenrant, between 1960 and 1980, gore in horror films were highly censored. It wasn’t until films such as the first Saw film, which came out in 2004, that “torture porn” became a thing. A lot of movies from the 1980s can’t be compared to films from today, we went from Chucky and Freddy chasing their victims to straight-up psychological torture in “Wrong Turn” and “Hereditary”.
The horror industry never stops growing, with many reboots of classic slasher films popping up as well as more additions to certain franchises. People will keep flocking to theaters to get scared.
What is important is that Hollywood needs to learn that women are not pieces of meat for these killers. They are more than just a “dumb blonde” or a slut. Flims such as “Ready or Not” and “Jennifer’s Body” do great jobs of not pushing the boundary of female torture to its limits.