The imagery put forth by the movie, Deadgirl, is jarring, to say the least. I cannot begin to reconcile many precepts that the movie plays with and dangles before your eyes. The movie plays with disquieting juxtapositions of elements never thought of before, making the movie more controversial and edgy in its presentation of what conspires to lead to what seems like a perfect tragedy.
In class it was discussed that part of the atmosphere of horror is the fact that horror stories deal with the idea of having our equilibriums disturbed, forever changed, and having to live with the facts of the changed as unchangeable. Deadgirl follows the journey of young individuals and their gradual descent and erosion into acceptance of the existence of this dead girl who is neither dead nor alive. As I mentioned earlier, the film plays on the ideas of juxtapositions of images and has the viewer contend with having to undo the association made. The idea of “zombie” comes together in a slow and somewhat anticipatory manner in the movie as it begins as the juxtaposition of the idea of an animate human form (the moving body of the girl) and the characteristics of a corpse.
Later the movie would approach even more dangerous waters by bringing into the mixture the idea of the sexualization of the human form. To be correct, the movie actually begins with the idea of sexualization and what we as viewers initially think is the idea of simple dehumanization via the S&M angle that the characters initially think is the situation. It’s only later that it comes back at us full frontal. In one scene where Ricky has a dream about a girl who is the object of his affection, the train of thought then soon progresses into the projection of her as an object of his sexuality with him soon entertaining the idea of her pleasuring him. This is soon jarred by the image of the dead girl herself appearing in his fantasy, similarly being entertained as an object of sexuality. Again, the movie brings you a disturbance in the form of bringing together two ideas that normally don’t go well, and you spend the majority of the movie contending with and reconciling the horrible thought and your perception of what is normal.
This constant struggle between Ricky and JT exemplify the two sides of dealing with the disturbance. One side ultimately abandons its norms to adapt and live with the horror and the other rejects the reality of horror and tries to recreate/build around it to regain a semblance of normalcy. This push and pull dance feels like a commentary on how we as humans would live our lives with each other in the presence of unimaginable circumstances where normal no longer exists.
This brings us to the horror of the zombie which I think we don’t often get into in our modern times. This may have something to do with us contending and having to deal with the disturbing imagery of humanity (or the image and likeness of it) turning predatory and preying on itself (on humans as well). And that the only way for it to be reconcilable is to have it turn inhuman (to be dead).
As humans the way we consume and eat food is that most of it is cooked (way past dead) and the act of consumption is ritualistically us taking something in and making it a part of us. We take dormant potencies and through ourselves as potentials in motion, transform the latent into more motion. The inversion that zombies bring is that we see the dynamics reversed: the dead feasting on the living, the dormant taking from the potent, us becoming a part of something whose boundaries we don’t understand. When the living consumes the dead (cooked), we see that the living stays alive (a bit more alive) and the dead stays dead. The horror of zombies lies in that as the dead feasts on the living, the dead doesn’t come back to life and the living, in turn also, die; the whole thing ends up in an uncontrollable cascade as opposed to the idea of the living staying alive and the dead staying inanimate which fulfills the status quo, the equilibrium, if you will.
To cap this off, zombies as monsters is not a new idea, but the way it scares us by taking on the likenesses of that which is familiar but removes from it the soul, manners, and reason that out humanist culture has always assured us is present in us.