“Sharon attracted violent men,” declares the narrator in Cecelia Condit’s Possibly in Michigan. “Strangely, she had a way of making the violence seem like it was their idea.” Condit’s 1983 experimental short indeed places violence at the fore, however, unlike the myriad slashers that would follow, Possibly in Michigan upends the images that have been traditionally assigned to women in this sub-genre, initiating broader dialogues about female representation in the process.
Primarily, Condit subverts common horror tropes by reconceptualizing Barbara Creed’s “monstrous feminine,” or the linkage between that which “disturbs identity, system, and order” and the female body. Possibly in Michigan, at face value, aligns main characters Sharon and Janice with the monstrous feminine: shots of Sharon’s body in particular are intercut with the images of animals and decaying bodies. Yet, in the film’s climax, the tables are turned. Their stalker, Arthur, is eventually marked as the monster, with the women becoming “each other’s apotropaic allies” in killing, cooking, and consuming the assailant. The female body, rather than interrupting the patriarchal social order through abject behaviors, is instead a powerful weapon of self-defense against the horrors of and within society.
Moreover, Possibly in Michigan’s experimental structure propels its status as a subversive horror film. Dreamlike in tone, the flow of narrative action is interrupted repeatedly by arbitrary close-ups, extended montage sequences, and other film footage. Surrealism and horror oftentimes occupy the same space – surrealism becomes a lens for examining the “violent, embodied assault on the social structures propping up modernity.” Possibly in Michigan certainly materializes the horrors of sexual violence, but it becomes subversive through its stream-of-consciousness portrayal of this violence, shown from the perspective of the female leads. By returning Arthur’s murderous gaze, and inviting the audience to laugh with them in the face of terror, Sharon and Janice ultimately wield “the power to discomfit, the power that is […] to pose a threat.”
Possibly in Michigan closes on the image of a garbage truck, slowly, unknowingly crushing Arthur’s remains. Only three people – Sharon, Janice, and the viewer – have experienced the events that occurred in the film’s opening. Perhaps this is the connective thread between this and other female-directed horror media: to collectively share in everyday horrors and, in retaliation, “bite at the hand that [feeds], slap at the face that [eats].”
 Creed, Barbara. The Monstrous Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis. Routledge, 1993, p. 8.
 Duckworth, Courtney. “Laugh at the Face that Eats You: Cecelia Condit’s Possibly in Michigan.” Cleojournal.com.
 Lowenstein, Adam. Shocking Representation: Historical Trauma, National Cinema, and the Modern Horror Film. Columbia University Press, 2005, p. 19.
 Duckworth, “Laugh at the Face that Eats You.”
 Mellencamp, Patricia. “Uncanny Feminism: The Exquisite Corpses of Cecelia Condit.” Framework 32 (1986), p. 108.