Raw: It’s Not About Cannibalism

Garance Marillier

After reading that some people fainted and threw up in theatres while watch Raw, I was not pleased when I heard we were going to watch it in class. But after watching, I personally didn’t find the viewing of it that terrible. Some parts were obviously disturbing and disgusting, but I was able to finish it. I wanted to finish it. The movie was compelling, and made the viewing of a sickening story pretty entertaining.

Raw is visceral, disturbing, and downright stomach-churning. Yet it is easily one of the the better films of the horror genre. It manages to indulge in the elements that often marginalize it while redeeming them with a loftier artistic goal in mind. By the film’s culmination you’ll not only have been thoroughly disturbed but also properly illuminated about the dangerous lines we walk to fight our inherent natures.

The story follows a a teenager called Justine who is going to college alongside her older, and somewhat rebellious sister. Justine has been brought up by strict parents, among whose personal tenets is an almost zealous adherence to vegetarianism. It is not long after Justine gets to college, and introduced to the rigorous hazing of her peers, that the convictions she’s been raised with are challenged. This begins with the ritualistic consumption of an animal’s kidney which, cowed by the pressure, she eats.

There were many splendid things about Raw. The cinematography, for example, was masterful, making the scenes visually pleasing to watch despite its viscerality. The performances, especially of the actress who plays Justine, were also exceptional. Cannibalism was made to look truly believable. And there also lies the brilliance of the film’s scoring. An ambiance was established well that worked with the narrative the film was trying to tell. The film was also a metaphor for the quick downward spiral that people fall into in their formative years as they give up convictions under the guise of exploration and losing “innocence” a pursuing our truer, darker nature. The film manages to be subtle and artistic with this parallel while simultaneously washing in gruesome horror.

Raw occasionally loses itself trying to say everything it wants to say, but it is undoubtedly an audacious (and quite witty) project that is never not interesting to watch. When it works, it works beautifully, and several moments in the film are contenders for best scenes I’ve ever seen. The final scene in particular was beyond brilliant and even coupled with a killer ending line. The actresses were amazing and as sisters in the film, they do a hell of a job selling the emotions of the movie. The film takes us through an examination of identity, burgeoning sexuality, addiction, freedom, and the line between man and animal, but at the end of the day, it’s a story about two sisters and their love for each other. This isn’t a cannibalism movie. It’s a story about a coming-of-age, sisterhood, and humanity, filtered through a horror setup.

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