In Julia Ducournau’s Raw, we are able to see a complex depiction of a female character in the horror genre. We are used to the idea of the “scream queen” and “final girl” trope in horror films, that seeing the full perspective of the female character as told by a female director  is such an interesting watch. It was also interesting to watch that this kind of horror film is not the typical type that relies on the jump scares. It was more skin-crawling because it relied on the more physical aspect of the horror, as seen on the canibal storyline. This film is clear example of the French extremity movement, wherein it truly tests the audience by depicting harsh scenarios that are rare in mainstream films.

The vibe of the film is a departure from most mainstream horror films because it does not rely on cheap jump scares to produce a reaction from the audience. We saw in the experiences of Justine in the veterinary school, that the environment of the film makes it creepy and makes sure it is connected to the cannibalistic aspect of the film. By having this more creepy vibe, the film is successful in not falling in the pitfalls most Hollywood horror films usually get trapped in. Instead they bring something very rare in the genre by making sure gut-wrenching scenes is what made it a horror. The most noteworthy scene for me was when Justine was in bed being tormented by her body that resulted to hear severely scratching herself.  This scene was very hard to watch because the film made the audience feel every scratch she made as if it was happening to them. This scene was successful, due to to committed performance of the actress and the sound of the film that highlights scratching sounds. This aspect of the film ensured that it belonged in the French extremity movement, because it was a horror film of bizzare and skin-crawling scenarios rather than simple jump scares.

Another aspect that I liked about the film that is not typical in most horror films was that it was very much character driven. The relationships of Justine with her sister, Alexia, and her roomate, Adrien, made the film more engaging because it humanizes Justine. By focusing in the character’s coming of age, we get to see a horror film that focuses on the character’s descent into madness. The actress, Garance Marillier, was very committed to her performance and made sure the audience followed her story because even though they might not relate in the cannibalistic aspect, they can relate in the coming of age and growing up aspect.

Lastly, the most noteworthy thing about the film for me is that it did not pursue the typical storylines that female characters in horror film usually have. We usually see them as the victims of the antagonists in the horror film. In this case it is purely in Justine’s perspective and tackling her own agency. It also important to see that this film is under the female gaze since it is done by a female director. With that she was able to tackle her film’s issues in the female perspective without exploiting her female characters, which is abundant in mainstream horror films. Also she does not make her heroine perfect by making sure the characterization of Justine is complex, which she gravitate being the heroin and the monster of the film . The film was not afraid to tackle these themes it because of that the film was very successful in the execution.

Enrico R. Barruela COM 115.5

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