Metaphor rules the horror genre creating disturbing and unsettling proxies for our fears, terror, and evil. So, one of the ways a horror film succeeds or fails is through the clarity, complexity, or impact of its metaphor.
Often, a cannibal movie lacks metaphor and subtly preferring to embrace the glorification of gore. With the bar set low, in most cannibal movies metaphor is superficial or nonexistent. For the quality cannibal film, the exegesis of the metaphor can be difficult.
Raw presents us with Justine as she enters vet school enduring rather asinine and needless hazing (as it always is) while discovering a deeply disquieting common bond with her older sister at the school.
In her debut film, Julia Ducournau has given us a coming-of-age story where hunger, for meat, for sex dovetail leaving us staggeringly stupefied. However, the story unfolds with such a deliberateness, I think most American viewers will lack the patience to enjoy the film. While beneath the surface we are all too eagerly awaiting flesh-eating, the story relies heavily upon exploring a sister dynamic. Raw fills a niche, a psychological drama pouring over into terror between Carrie and The Craft.
Each scene buildings upon the previous while creating surprising connections to future ones. The communion early on administered by Justine’s sister Alexia, the anxiety induced and inducing scene where Justine vomits bizarrely long hair, the repulsive glee we see and feel when Justine begins to eat flesh, and the noxious sex all create a frightening story. For a first film in a well-trod genre, Ducournau has created something unique. I would put this movie along Neon Demon as one that will either provoke viewers to love it or hate it.
Raw is a quality film, disturbing and itchingly unsettling.