What Are You Hungry For? A Review of Raw

Almost a month has passed since I saw Raw in the theater and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. As a horror fan, I was excited to check out this French movie written and directed by a woman and staring a female lead. I will be avoiding spoilers, so you are safe.

Raw (the French title is Grave) centers on Justine, a vegetarian who comes from a family of vets and is on her way to veterinary school at the start of the film. Her older sister is an upperclassman at the vet school, but they don’t exactly have the best relationship. During a hazing ritual, Justine is forced to eat meat — and from there, her desire for flesh takes over. It starts with a rash and it turns into an itch (literally and metaphorically) she needs to scratch. She starts to eat cooked meat, but that isn’t enough. Even consuming raw meat like chicken can’t satisfy her craving. During all of this, Justine is having a hard time balancing her classes with partying and the hazing. She also starts to develop feelings for her male roommate. Eventually, Justine learns that what she truly craves is human flesh. I don’t want to spoil the scene when she finally realizes this, but it made me drop my mouth open. There were some stories that people who saw the movie vomited or fainted, but I was fine. I guess it depends on your stomach! There were plenty of other twists and turns throughout the movie that made what could have been an mediocre cannibal story into a deeper, more personal story. In the end, Justine has to make a choice to either listen to or ignore her new cravings.

Even consuming raw chicken doesn’t satisfy Justine’s new craving for meat.

Raw reminded me of movies like Carrie and Ginger Snaps, other coming of age stories about young girls who have new urges awakened due to supernatural forces. You could watch Raw and think Justine’s new cannibalistic impulses are correlated to her new environment (and being away from her parents and stuck with her older and more experienced sister), the stress of school, and her romantic feelings for her roommate. In the beginning, Justine is quiet, shy and reserved, but as her cravings for flesh intensify, she starts to explore her sexuality and embraces the changes that are taking place with her body. The actress does a great job expressing Justine’s transformation and struggle. Another important theme is the sisterhood between Justine and her older sister, which plays a big part in the story.

When I watched this interview from the director Julia Ducournau, I was impressed to hear her speak so frankly about the movie’s themes (it might be because I’m so used to American horror movies being all about the male gaze). As Justine discovers her sexuality and adjusts to college, an animalistic side comes out, but it doesn’t mean she’s a monster. She is still human, and she is fighting to keep her humanity. As a woman, I don’t need to be a cannibal to understand the same struggles Justine went through.

One thing is for sure, I’m excited for The Bad Batch, the next cannibal horror movie written and directed by a woman, Ana Lily Amirpour. 🙂

Photos from IMDB.

 

4 Comments

  • Shara White May 18, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    So now I want to see this AND The Bad Batch. THANKS A LOT, NU.

    Reply
    • nuyangwriter May 18, 2017 at 3:04 pm

      Haha! Definitely try and catch Raw if you can!

      Reply
  • Lane Robins May 18, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    Yay, I’m glad someone went to see it who was not me! Cannibals are right up there with zombies for nope, no, nyet, uh-uh in my movie going experiences. But at the same time, I wanted this woman-helmed horror movie to do well!

    Reply
    • nuyangwriter May 18, 2017 at 6:50 pm

      Haha, understandable! It’s been getting excellent reviews!

      Reply

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