Evil Dead trilogy: Ash Williams descends into madness, the fan theory


The Evil Dead trilogy is a portrait over time of Ash Williams descending into madness according to a popular fan theory or is it? We explore the possibility.

The Evil Dead trilogy is interesting because originally, as anyone who has ever watched the first film and listened to Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert or Bruce Campbell talk about it, knows it to be a straightforward horror excursion. There was no injected humor or pithy one-liners. Just sheer non-stop terror for the audience as five friends try to survive a cabin full of demons.

In the next two installments, Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness, Raimi and company’s now signature “splatstick” style was born. With Ash fighting his own hand in the second film and tiny versions of himself in the last endeavor, the tonal shift is evident. Most fans just go with it and don’t dissect it too much.

We all know that Campbell and his pals started their careers doing comedic Super-8 shorts. However, according to Grunge, the Reddit Fan Theories site has other notions. Specifically, that there is actually an “in-universe” explanation for why things get progressively more outlandish and ridiculous with the passage of time.

Ash starts to lose his sanity in the first half of Evil Dead II. This isn’t news to anyone. As the film progresses, his interactions with the Deadites are “cartoonish,” because he is starting to take them less seriously.

However, when you look at Army of Darkness from that vantage point, now it becomes a little bleaker and more disturbing. As Ash descends further into madness, he is no longer threatened by the evil that surrounds him. In fact, he is bolder and more confrontational.

In turn, they become oafish and more inept. As he wars with various versions of himself, it is as if we can see his psyche coming apart onscreen.

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Was this Sam Raimi’s intention? Probably not, but when viewed from this angle, Army of Darkness is no laughing matter. It is a horrifying portrait of losing touch with reality.

Do you agree with this fan theory? Let us know in the comments. We want to hear from you.