This week our horror movie series ventures into the realm of body horror and perverse desires with French writer-director Julia Ducournau and her feature film debut “Raw” (2017). While it’s not especially scary, this movie will captivate your attention. From its first, enigmatic scenes to its final series of twists and turns, you won’t be able to look away. Prepare yourself because the movie will definitely challenge your sensibilities with its plentiful “gross out” moments and its unflinching exploration of unhealthy appetites. Yes, it’s about cannibalism (as you probably already know or have guessed) but it approaches that serious taboo in some very intriguing ways. I think you’re going to like this one.
“Raw” makes for an excellent if provocative addition to our two-month series focusing on films written and directed by women. Reviewing this film for the Roger Ebert website, Christy Lemire asserts, “It may not sound like it on the surface, but ‘Raw’ is absolutely a celebration of female power—of realizing who you are, what you want and how to go after it, albeit with brutally bloody results.” Lemire also recognizes the influence of both David Cronenberg and David Lynch in this film, and I heartily agree. This movie is not only frequently stomach-churning but it is profoundly, and humorously weird at times.
The narrative device of having the events in the film take place during the first week of veterinary school, while the freshman are being actively hazed by the upperclassmen makes for an interesting choice, but it does prepare us for a strained reintroduction between our young protagonist Justine (a tortured newbie at the school) and her older sister Alexia who has already learned how to fit in and thrive in this bizarre academy.
Similar to many of the films we’ve watched in our horror series, “Raw” focuses on exploring family dynamics gone awry, but it also has a core tenderness to its family relationships, even if they’re not exactly what we might think of as “normal.”
I’ll be very curious to hear what you think of this one. Enjoy!