Celluloid Screams 2016: Raw Review
Julia Ducournau’s critically acclaimed Raw (Original Title: Grave) is currently the most talked about horror movie of the year. Taking place in a veterinary school, Raw is the story of strict vegetarian Justine (Garance Marillier), a naive young girl starting out in university, away from the rigid views of her parents. Following an initiation in which she is pressured into consuming raw meat, Justine goes down a dangerous path when her cravings begin to grow.
Firstly, what needs to be addressed when discussing Raw is the hysteria surrounding it. Much like 2015’s The Witch, it is the film that is described as the most eagerly anticipated, one that all movie goers must see. The hype has been driven further by claims that the film caused fainting during it’s screening at the Toronto International Film Festival due to being “too intense” and that audience members required medical attention. Yes, these kind of reports will draw in curious cinema goers but when it comes down to it, the “hype” could become detrimental to the overall viewing of the film. Bottom line, don’t expect some nasty, shocking gore film. Without a doubt, Raw is an excellent piece of cinema and it is one of the best genre movies of 2016, but is it pass-out inducing? No!
There is of course gore, there are squeamish moments however they are shot and edited in such a skilful way that much is left to the imagination alone rather than the film including lingering, gross out scenes that will provoke nauseating reactions from the audience. Raw is an artistic film in terms of how it’s composed visually with a strong narrative flowing throughout. It has something for all kinds of cinema fans from those who enjoy art house, to straight up horror fans.
Comparisons have been drawn between the 2000 monster, coming-of-age movie Ginger Snaps starring Katherine Isabelle and Emily Perkins. Raw does in fact share similar themes. It’s a tale of two sisters, it’s a metaphor for growing up, experiencing change and the influence of a new and different environment. While the narratives of both films share a likeness, Raw is it’s own beast and a strong example of how versatile the genre can be in terms of taking a familiar concept and being innovative with it, which is what Ducournau has achieved.
Amidst all the shock and panic centring the film, the most surprising factor of Raw is how darkly funny it is. Certain moments are unexpectedly dark and take the audience by surprise that it’s difficult not to be amused by the fantastical nature of it all. The gore effects themselves are realistic enough to cause a sense of discomfort, namely when Justine experiences physical reactions after eating meat.
Another of Raw’s strongest point is it’s portrayal of female characters. It proves how far the genre has come in terms of three dimensional female leads. Women are no longer helpless damsels in distress being chased after by a mad man only to end up hacked to pieces. Raw proves how the gender tables can turn. The film explores female sexuality and female characters taking control of their own decisions which is refreshing to see. It celebrates the female body and doesn’t shy away in terms of what it shows but is also tastefully shot. Both Garance Marillier and Ella Rumpf (Alexia- Justine’s older, more experienced sister) are outstanding in their performances.
Hands down, Raw is one of the horror films to watch in 2016 and is certainly one of the most incredibly brilliant films to emerge on the festival circuit this year. It completely deserves it’s mainstream release courtesy of Universal Pictures in Spring 2017 as it will introduce more casual horror viewers to something different from the usual Hollywood fare. It’s best to go in knowing very little and enjoying everything it has to offer. The one piece of advice to approach Raw with is ignore all the silly hype and just see for yourselves what a fantastic film it really is.
As a Horror Fan and a Vegetarian Raw is a genre film that will be most welcome in my collection when it’s eventually released.
Hayley Alice Roberts