I’ve never seen the film Deadgirl before but from the title, I could only assume that it would indeed involve a dead girl. The movie surrounds two friends, JT and Rickie – outcasts in their high school – who stumble upon a shocking discovery. On the day they decide to explore an old, abandoned mental hospital they come across a tied-up naked girl in one of the underground facilities. Rickie, the more morally developed of the two, think that they should set the girl free and go home, but JT has other plans in mind. Rickie does not want to have any part in this and decides to leave. JT stays behind and begins to rape the naked girl who while appearing to be beaten up and bruised, is still alive. When JT discovers that the girl is no longer living and could not be killed, he develops a taste for necrophilia. The rest of the story shows issues with regards to morality and ethics, challenging Rickie to either do something about the problem or remain immobile.
Sexuality is no stranger to horror films, as portrayed in a number of slasher films where the murderer hunts down a group of young people, the victims usually being girls. This film in particular deals with a gross objectification of women, where a dead zombie-like girl becomes a sexual object to a group of hormonal high school boys. I personally did not enjoy the movie, because I found it to be distasteful and unfinished. The reason for this may be found in what was discussed in class as the problem of the narrative structure in horror film. This structure is known to be first an establishment of “the familiar” or what others would like to think of as an equilibrium. These were the two boys JT and Rickie, who were portrayed to be living stable albeit flawed lives. Then the unfamiliar in the form of the “monster” or the dead girl was introduced, causing a disequilibrium. No matter what plot the movie might take, there can never be a return to the original equilibrium, which is why the new and final equilibrium includes the monstrous element. This is not what most people would like to experience, and becomes harder to accept.
The objectification of the dead girl in this movie is hard to stomach, and as Robin Wood explains it, is rooted in society’s tendency to repress. Sexuality and sexual energy are regarded as “taboo”, and are one of the principal things being repressed in our culture. The term “gender” has come to specify what particular things are socially acceptable regarding male and female behavior. For instance, my understanding of the overuse of the words “fuck” and “bro” in Deadgirl connoted a gender behavior specifically associated with males and manliness. JT, despite the repulsiveness of having sex with a dead girl, was able to convince other boys like his friend Wheeler, and the two more popular boys into having sexual relations with the dead girl by using characteristic gender roles as a threat to their manliness. The characteristic “submissive” woman portrayed by the dead girl was also a representation of remnants of a patriarchal society where women were expected to obey their husbands. This was all possible by the use of objectification.
In order to carry out such atrocities to the dead girl, JT and the other boys must have first used objectification to view the dead girl as something that Wood calls the “other”. They did not recognize the dead girl as a human being or even a dangerous zombie, but viewed her solely as a sex slave. In doing this, they endangered themselves with the possibility of being killed and die forever, or worse, the chance of being infected with dead girl’s zombie bite. Although I was aware of the issues presented in the film, it did not occur to me that it was real and possible. I will not enjoy watching Deadgirl for a second time, because it too has established a new equilibrium in my life.