The blood and gore displayed in Raw are but the surface level of what makes this film standout. It is all but natural that blood and gore factor in as majority of the shock value all throughout the film yet what stands out even more are the themes weaved so masterfully along with its grotesqueness.
Often, the sexual maturation of a woman can become quite a heated and messy topic to discuss. If not in a manner of sexual emancipation and the willfulness of the female to truly live out her bodily desires, shame and disgust is often at the forefront instead. What is fascinating with Raw is how it blends both of these ends of the spectrum giving each its respective time in the spotlight. The femme fatale and main protagonist of the film is Justine, who seems to act quite docile for the very first minutes of the film. What comes at the delight (or disgust for some) is how immediately this front of hers is shattered and in its place comes something quite visceral and violent.
In the early part of the film, it was established that Justine, her older sister in college, Alexia, and their mother are all adamant vegetarians. The reason behind this remains unknown for only a short while as it is revealed that they are a family of cannibals. Justine’s baptism into her cannibalistic tendencies could not have been any more repulsive yet intriguing. Her first piece of meat was a raw rabbit’s kidney that ushered her towards sparking within her the insatiable desire for flesh. As if her body knew that it was an act equivalent to sacrilege, it acts out violently through rashes that eventually give way to her more carnal tendencies. It begins gradually, with chicken meat but slowly escalate to one of the most memorable scenes of the film—Justine devouring her very own sister’s chopped off finger. From here on, the audience soon understands the extent of their voraciousness for human meat as well as why their mother made them vegetarians.
Unexpectedly, the sexual maturation of Justine goes hand-in-hand with her growth as a cannibal. As she grew more brazen in pursuit of fulfilling her meat fix, the more overtly sexual she became. Personally, I believe that this is quite an apt, albeit extreme, metaphor of the reality that women face in their journey of discovering their sexualities. One cannot help but cite the double standard they face, in which men are rewarded with praise with their plentiful sexual conquests while women receive scorn for it. Undoubtedly, one cannot equate cannibalism to sex but the adverse reactions other have to their perversity cannot be ignored.
What Raw does excellently is the manner of interpretation it has on cannibalism. The gore within the film is not overtop but not lacking—despite the reaction of disgust on the surface, one has to admit that a primal urge was awakened within them. There is a finesse in the manner the film attacked the whole issue of cannibalism which in the end provoked an inner sense of kinship with the cannibalistic tendencies of the family.