Well, this one was gross. Although, it was pretty spot on with what I was expecting it would be. You can’t really be too surprised with a name like Raw and the premise being that a college-aged vegetarian girl is forced to eat something raw, then develops an appetite for… other raw things. I was actually more surprised to find out this was a foreign film when the subtitles rolled out. I clearly do a lot of research before I watch a movie. With that being said, let’s gnaw right into this spoiler free review.
The Good: I would describe Raw as being a body horror mixed with cannibalism with emphasis on the cannibalism. To that point, this movie really hits the nail on the head and delivers. So essentially if you’re looking to be somewhat disgusted (depending on your level of squeamishness) you’re in the right place. The first scene in which Justine changes her menu from animal to human had me yelling at her, “No… NO… Stop that! Okay, maybe just a nibble”. You can really feel the mixture of emotions coming from Justine as she struggles with her condition as any sane human would. She experiences physiological changes and it’s easy to sympathize with her sense of confusion, disgust and reluctance to accept what her body is craving.
On the flip side, you have Justine’s older sister Ella who can comes off as completely bat shit crazy. I hesitate to say that she is the “bad” part of the movie just because I hated her character. It’s moments like those you have to pull yourself back a little and remember the character was intentionally written that way and it means the actor is doing a good job (IE; Ramsey Bolton in Game of Thrones). She’s the catalyst for all the bad things that happen to Justine and continues to push her through all of the hazing at school. She has some redeeming moments but is generally unpleasant (seriously, who laughs about their dead dog?). For that reason, I think she and most of the other actors did an excellent job.
The Bad: Maybe it’s just a cultural thing or maybe they were just trying to capture the atmosphere of college hazing but everyone seems really rude to each other. I know, I know there’s a little bit of irony when this is coming from someone named “The Cynicist” and overall it seems like a silly complaint. Say what you will, but at least I know how to say please and thank you because I wasn’t raised by wolves. It kind of just made me irritated to watch everyone kind of treat each other like shit for the whole movie though. I was kind of hoping to see some sort of sisterly bond, which at some point did happen if only for a scene or two but beyond that, the two were constantly at odds with each other. All the communication in the movie seems tense though and like everybody just kind of puts up with each other’s presence.
While the movie delivered pretty well, for the most part it wasn’t anything I haven’t seen before. I guess once you’ve seen a movie about humans eating other humans before, you’ve seen em’ all. They tried to throw in a little twist with a big “oh shit” moment but at that point it felt like the story was naturally leading there, so I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to be surprised or not. Also, the story itself didn’t seem to spiral too far out of control (IE; Justine didn’t end up eating fifty people on campus). Maybe that makes it more believable but I guess I would have liked to see her lose a handle on things a little more than she did.
The Judgment: Overall this wasn’t a bad movie and I can see the appeal it had with some audiences. Is it for everyone? Definitely not. I probably lost some of you back at “eating something raw”. It was a well thought out movie that executed its’ vision, even if that vision was cannibalism. It wasn’t anything overly impressive either, but I’d recommend watching it if you’re not too squeamish and you’re in the mood for trying something different.