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.


Raw is a horror drama film by Julia Docourneau. It is about a college freshman who tastes meat for the first time and becomes a cannibal.

As a person who enjoys seeing gory stuff on-screen, I can say that I found this film enjoyable. I was amused as my seatmates cringed while the main character ingested her sister’s finger.

Although this film is gory, the quality of the plot did not suffer, unlike most gory film these days like The Human Centipede. The film uses cannibalism as a plot device and a metaphor for the sisters’ coming-of-age. It was relatable to a point, as we all go through a phase of insecurity, adjustment, and comformity as we enter college.

Overall, I enjoyed this film and I would recommend it to people who enjoy both gore and plot.

Tender and Juicy

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Raw by Julia Ducournau is definitely not for the faint of the heart (or those who easily lose their appetite). It is not particularly “tender” to audiences in showing scenes that involve cannibalism but for some weird reason, this film really sparked my curiosity. Instead of looking away during all the intense flesh-eating action, I watch intently as Justine, the protagonist, chew on her scrumptious human meal. There is something about this film that makes cannibalism look more than just a savage and unethical act. The way I saw it, it signifies that strong and passionate desires of the siblings in the movie. No matter how intensely gruesome and ridiculous it is, they can’t resist doing it because that is who they really are and that is what they really want. The film is just different from the other gory movies that I saw in a sense that it has something deeper to tell to its viewers. Even though using cannibalism as a representation is a bit too sick and overboard, I got the idea that the film is about the struggles the one has to overcome in finding one’s identity. It is a coming of age movie after all. The film begins with an innocent Justine who is just entering her first year in college. Because of her sister Alexia, she is further pushed into her own awakening.

If Raw was a wholesome film about something else that does not involve cannibalism, it would’ve been really easy and fun to watch. Its cinematography is different from the other films watched in class because it is only released recently. Although it contained a lot of horrendous scenes, the direction is still aesthetically pleasing. The two main characters, Justine and Alexia, are particularly strong in their own ways and their relationship with one another may resonate well with the audience. It kind of signifies the path that Justine has been led into. She goes through a lot of struggle and rejection in her growth to realizing who she really is. Her growth in the film may be relatable for the teenagers of today, except for the flesh-eating qualities. The film also wouldn’t make much sense if it was taken too literally or realistically. It works more on metaphors and representation. One could argue about certain possibilities in the movie such as the actions that should’ve been done in order to prevent our protagonists from turning into savages and ending in disastrous results but that is not really how it work in real life. The reality is, we are often left on our own in trying to figure out ourselves and that brings the impact for the movie.

Out of all the gory or horror movies that I have watched, Raw must be one of the most interesting ones. It does not pointlessly make use of cannibalism just to showcase terror. It makes use of terror to make a point to its viewers. If you can sit through the entire duration of the film without closing your eyes, you will Rget to truly appreciate Raw for what it really is and what it is really trying to say.

That’s not sushi, sis

When we were warned that the film we were going to watch may be scary for some of us, I suddenly got worried. I am personally not a fan of horror or gory movies. I get scared whenever my friends force me to watch a film of these genres. Which is why I got a little anxious when the film Raw (2016) started showing in class.

The film was not what I expected at all. I expected to be scared or really grossed out, but I was actually just entertained. What drew me in was the story of how Justine tries to adjust into veterinary school. The question of whether or not she should conform just to fit in was very realistic to me. Most adolescents and young adults often feel like they have to change who they are just to be liked and to gain friends, especially when they enter a new environment. I honestly believe Justine’s self-control was very good, even when Alexia was forcing her to eat the rabbit’s kidney. She was really holding her ground because she believed that she had to stick to her values (vegetarianism) even though she was put under the spotlight in front of everyone in the university and was being coerced into eating it just so she could pass the initiation. However, Alexia forcing the rabbit’s kidney down Justine’s throat just proved how strong peer pressure was for me. Even the strongest willed people can be torn down by peer pressure, which is a sad reality that Justine had to face in the movie.

Justine giving in to conforming to the ideals of the students caused her downfall. I honestly think Alexia got what she deserved, from seeing her sister feeding on her finger all the way to getting imprisoned for killing Adrien. She was the reason why Justine’s parents’ perseverance to keep Justine from giving into her cannibalistic ways failed. Justine was living a normal, good life before her sister ruined it for her by letting her have her first taste of meat. Alexia probably knew that Justine was going to discover their family’s “dysfunction”, but she still forced it to happen for her little sister. Isn’t that messed up? Alexia was honestly such a horrible sister. She even made things worse by exposing and humiliating Justine during the scene when she led Justine to the morgue. Throughout the movie, I was wondering to myself what Alexia gained from leading Justine astray. She wasn’t really getting anything out of it other than the fact that she could finally feel like she is not alone since her sister is also as crazy as she is.

The film made me feel uncomfortable in the sense that it made me realize how cannibalism is really scary, especially if it happens in real life. However, despite the cannibalism, there really was the underlying theme of every single one of us trying to strive for acceptance, no matter what the cost or consequences. I believe Justine did not have any fault whatsoever, she was just mixed up into the whole mess. She inherited the cannibalistic tendencies because it was hereditary, and she was forcefully introduced to it. I feel like her family could have handled the situation way better than they did in the film.

Home for grave: Raw (2016)

Raw (2016) was perhaps the best title for a movie as grotesque as what we just watched it class. The plot is quite simple. Justine, a lifelong vegan, is sent off to the same veterinary school her parents attended and met years before. On her first day in her new environment, she is forced to eat rabbit kidneys as part of an initiation for a fraternity, and she wakes up with a strange rash the next day and suddenly starts to crave meat.

And although Raw (or “grave” in its native French) didn’t exactly strike me in the way I would expect a film classified under the horror genre would, it was just as horrifying. Time and time again I found myself filled with a sense of dread as the film portrayed truly horrifying scenarios: a girl devouring parts of her sibling, or discovering her parents’ history of cannibalism, or waking up in a bed next to a rotting, half-eaten corpse. This was a horror that didn’t aim to scare per se. Instead, I felt it was big on shock value that owed itself to numerous plot twists throughout the film’s progression.

With all of these horror-esque elements though, there was also a clear theme of coming of age throughout the movie. Even just the bare premise makes this evident: a young girl going off to college and discovering herself. As Justine comes to grips with her cannibalistic tendencies, there is a lot of self-discovery that happens in the process. All things considered, it does read like a teenage girl going off to college to experience the world. There’s a lot of sex, drugs, and rock and roll involved here, and she comes out of these experiences a completely different person than when she started, no longer the shy, vegan girl she was when she entered.

As with all coming of age flicks, a lot of Justine’s internal struggle seemed to depend on the question of conforming to society’s expectation or staying herself. In the beginning for instance, you could see that she was not completely on board with what the fraternity group was all about. She seemed to be having no fun at their initiation party, nor did she seem to be willing to be “hazed” by eating a rabbit kidney at all. Garance Marillier does an excellent job at performing this internal struggle of Justine’s: one scene that particularly stuck out to me was when she ended up chewing into her own arm, presumably to avoid taking a bite out of her roommate in the middle of a sexual encounter. The tension in that moment became clear, and it was perhaps that point in the narrative that we began to see Justine slowly giving herself up to this new side of her.

And so it is perhaps the rawness behind Raw that makes it such a striking film. The coming of age element is not just an emotional or spiritual journey of self-discovery, although these are definitely part of it. Instead, the turmoil happens in her innermost being: the tension is quite palpable as we witness Justine fighting her most primal desires with every fiber of her being. Her cannibalistic side is a rabid animal: she is swept away by its current as it continues clawing away at her innocent, brainiac self, all she knew for the past few years of her life, building up into a terrifying crescendo. The violence that occurs inside of her heavily outweighs any of what happens on-screen.

Caged Cannibals: Reflections on Raw

For all of us, college was a scary step into a new world of freedom. Compared to high school, the authority that limited our experiences now really couldn’t care less about what we do in college. We’re allowed to mingle more, go out, and experience even the things that we thought were bad when we were younger. Having this much freedom after growing up in a very secure environment was sort of a drug to many because of the excitement it brings. In the movie Raw directed by Julia Ducournau, the character Alexia best exemplifies this as she openly and even initiates many of the wild college activities we see in the film. Yet there are some, like Alexia’s sister, Justine, whose first experience of college is a scary step outside the safety of her once innocent life. The interactions between the two sisters show us the kind of growth the youth experience on their last step towards adulthood. Sometimes however, this experience can go beyond our own limitations, pushing us to do things we never even considered doing. In the film’s case, cannibalism could possibly be the best way to show such transition, as both girls grow into the almost primitive life in college.

More than just a cannibal film, Raw shows us a perspective on the coming-of-age of two sisters, who seem to be polar opposites of each other. Alexia shows a more liberated and carefree attitude, while Justine seems to be timid and uptight at first. But, as the story progresses, it was discovered that the two had a taste for human flesh. It was through their cannibalistic experiences together, which began with Justine eating her sister’s finger, that they were able to open themselves up to conflict not just within themselves and with each other, but also with their lives outside the comfort of their restrictive parents.

Cannibalism was a way to show how the two girls were growing out of their youth. However, in my perspective, such actions were symbolic of the extreme ways they experienced such event. It showed them in a primitive light; almost animal-like and without a care for morals and ethics. They were hungry for the freedom they got, so much so that they couldn’t get enough of it. It was violent because it was as if they were so limited and restricted in their lives with their parents that the splurged on bad habits in college. Yet, the mistakes that they did often resulted to maturity. Justine best exemplifies this by the way her character progresses in the film. At first, she was uneasy with her new life but grew into it and even began taking care of her sister, despite harming her. A necessary violence, whether physical or emotional, was necessary for both sisters to realize the maturity that is needed outside their restrictive family lives, most especially with each other.

The film may have been gory, but it does not fail to show us a piece of our lives in college, or that transition stage between childhood to adulthood. It shows us that freedom can be both liberating and violent. I have to say that Raw is one of my favorites so far because it was able to utilize the coming-of-age theme by applying grotesque scenes such as cannibalism.

Raw: The Carnal Hunger

This movie was difficult to watch. This was so in the sense of how brutal the story went and how extreme the story progressed. Set in a university setting, it’s relatable if it’s looked at the lens of a coming-of-age movie of a girl learning her ways with new friends and a new setting. This is seen in how the protagonist, Julia, was a virgin in both the metaphorical and material sense. Raw shows the transformation and way of how Julia found herself in this setting – through the imagery of cannibalism.

First, the movie starts of with her having a meal with her family – no protein mashed potato. As a vegetarian, it set the beginning in where she began exploring her curiosity or craving for meat, escalating exponentially as the scenes go by. From entering the medical school, seeing the animals and lunch available, being introduced to the trippy parties and school events, this triggered her spiraling into her discovering herself through her urges and sexuality – feigned through cannibalism.  Shown of as an innocent and more quiet or timid girl, she soon enters the wild scene of orgies, college parties, having a crush and having too much to drink, through very grotesque and rather gory segments. While the story develops, she begins to act more rashly, succumbing to the cravings and temptations she has – with either sex or with the hunger. Supporting with Justine’s sister, the stigma of cannibalism was continued by the pair instead of it being treated or handled. This brought major conflicts between the sisters, as they used their taboo secrets to humiliate and harm each other within the campus community. This is shown in how they broke out fighting on campus, and how Julia began to fantasize her craving during a college party, where everyone and even her new boyfriend -Adrien, was freaked out. Distancing herself from what she was in the beginning of the film, Julia in turn found solace with her sister as they really understood what their condition was like. This was also seen, in the finale, about how the tendencies of cannibalism were in their family, and that the father wishes she “finds her solution.” On a simple inspection, the hunger their family felt can be alluded to sexual cravings and virginity. Knowing the pleasure of something that you crave for it forever more can be one way of looking into their condition and the progression of the film. Another way I saw was the craving as a drug or pretense of maturity in a university. Situating yourself with unfamiliar people with only your sister as a familiar face can cause very drastic and careless decisions in their part – such as Julia accidentally cutting her sister’s finger off, and her drunken dazes where she does embarrassing acts. In the end, the connection that I can understand is that it is a allegory of growing up, a coming-of-age film in its purest sense.

The grotesque and gory execution was indeed impactful. I felt like I was going to throw up because of how intense and extreme the movie went. From her sister eating someone’s brains out, to the act of biting someone’s lips of their face, it’s very shocking to watch and follow. The movie kept on presenting these gross scenes yet still find relevance to what is happening to the film – to its credit where the scenes are earned and not forced. We see here the descent or growth of a “child,” who finds herself in the most extreme image of cannibalism.