Outskirts online journal

Maja Pandzic

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About the author

Maja Pandzic, PhD, is a Teaching Assistant at the Department of Russian Language and Literature, University of Zadar, Croatia. Her areas of interest are feminist literary criticism, spatial theories, detective fiction.

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Publication details

Volume 35, November 2016

Female "madness" as the driving force behind the monstrous in the Insidious film series 



This article offers a feminist reading of the Insidious film series through identifying the links between the monstrous and the female characters in the narrative. In reading the monstrous as the product of the anxious heroine, I draw upon Barbara Creed’s understanding of the “abject” and classify it as that which strives to destabilize the system of traditional gender roles confining female protagonists. I also maintain that the home in the films is presented as the primary site of horror because it is in fact the location of heroines’ imprisonment; of their false attachment, as the home in our society is principally a place concealing patriarchal power relations. By drawing upon Jane Ussher’s research on disorders I underscore anxiety in women as a social construct and a reasonable response to their repressive lives in patriarchal society. The anxiety of female protagonists is the result both of being overburdened with domestic/maternal duties and their inability to attain self-fulfilment. I propose the reading of the monstrous in the films as the combination of two strategies of resistance Ussher claims are central to battling this socially constructed/contracted “madness”. Firstly, it represents the rejection of idealized femininity. Secondly, it is a product of engagement in creativity, through which the heroine voices her distress. By thoroughly analyzing the experiences of female characters—a mother of three (Renai), two single mothers (Lorraine, Michelle) and a teenage girl (Quinn)—I not only trace the emergence of the monstrous to the climax of their anxiety but show that the demons with whom they share numerous similarities, are in fact disrupting the traditional family, punishing or forcing male protagonists to accept a share of domestic and parental duties, and thus improving the status of female characters. 


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