Everly, as a Jungian dream
By way of background, I am a psychologist who started his career reading Carl Jung, and I believe that Jung is the key to understanding much art, especially any mythic story telling. Everly is not just a sexy horror movie, it is a well-made allegory, a dream, an urban nightmare, if you will. Most movies do not immediately make you realize what they are. I can only remember one, Alien, that struck me as a Jungian dream immediately, its characters being so obvious. I had to watch Everly twice to understand what the artists were doing. Salma Hayak is wonderfully intense in this role, which is anything but gratuitously sexual. If anything, it could be said to be gratuitously anti-sexual.
Everly is wonderful in the Jungian sense. I believe that Carl Jung’s most useful insight was that in dreams all the characters are elements of the dreamer, whose Self is usually represented by a quartet of characters, a female by three female and one male.
Everly is trapped in her home, (usually the symbol of the Self), a sex slave to a diabolical dark monster, but she has recently decided to try to be free. To do so she must kill many terrible men, who inflict many wounds on her body, but, strangely, she seems to only get stronger in the process rather than weaker. She wants to save her daughter and mother, innocent and maternal elements of her Psyche, and her mother dies in the process, and she ultimately slays the dark man by confronting him. In the end, only the child is saved. Perfect Jung, all the way.
She wounds the male element of her psyche, (the dead man), who is mostly just an observer as the drama plays out, Everly unnecessarily eliminates the actually benign male element in her psyche quartet, (Mother, daughter, Everly, Dead Man), although he does passively protect her from the attacking dog after he is dead. The attacking whores are additional mercenary instances of what she is fighting which she must confront and eliminate.
Everly clearly feels trapped by her own sexuality, and would like to be free from it, but is held hostage by her “family”, her daughter and mother. She cannot be free as long as they exist and are threatened. There is no father in evidence, only the dark, foreign monster who holds her in thrall and the weak male element of her Psyche, the dead man.
If it were a patient’s dream, I would suggest it was dreamt by a woman who feels trapped by sexual desires which she feels are humiliating. She wants to be free but cannot be so long as her “family’s” the rest of herself) welfare hangs in the balance. She acts out by destroying all the male perpetrators of her felt humiliation. She thrusts a long sword into her dark man and twists it before cleaving him in half. Wow. This woman really wants to destroy her sexual desires, which are strong. She also tosses a grenade to another symbol of her animal desire, Bonzai the dog, who fetches it thinking it a ball, a slang term for intercourse, of course, and it destroys him.
Alas, in the end, Everly, or the dreamer, does not integrate her sexual desires, but “kills” them, which almost kills her as well. Is her “child” saved? We don’t really know. Does Everly even survive?
If such a patient were to achieve integration of her psychic elements, she would need to confront and accept the dark man, to tame the dog, to love her monstrous feelings. But Everly says, “you don’t love the way I do” to the dark man. It is the key line of the entire movie. She is referring to maternal love versus sexual lust, but she is not referring to the dark man: she is referring to the split within herself. Maternal love is acceptable, sexual lust is not. The dilemma, of course, is that they depend on each other.
Movies are often expressions of common psychological dilemmas: and learning to accept one’s consummatory sexuality is certainly one of the most common, especially in women today.