RAW (2016, dir. Julia Ducournau) is a powerful not to miss piece. Do not be misled by the tag line of a this being a cannibalism horror film, RAW is a genre rule breaking film that follows in the same vain of films such as SPRING (2014, dir. Justin Benson) or SLEIGHT (2016, dir. J.D. Dillard). ‘Nuff said, right?
But why should we consider this a not miss film? From the opening scene of a brutal car wreck; RAW, appears to be like some dark post-apocalyptic piece, then quickly cuts to a present day normal world setting as vegetarian daughter Alexia (played by Ella Rumpf) is having her last meal with the folks before going off to veterinarian school. She is reserved in behavior, with her knowledge of the world, and her expectation of what college is exactly like. In the most cliché way, her understanding of the world, and expectation of college is exploded within the next ten minutes of the film. Her roommate is a homosexual male, that for a lack of a better term is a slut, her older sister is a wild child, and no one gives a damn about her family pedigree for being amazing vets. This film begins to play up troupes of the horror sub-genre of cannibalism films, as she is confronted with a do or die scenario, singled out, and eventually gives into becoming what she resisted. What makes this more then just another gore fest film (which really outside of two brief scenes, isn’t gore-ish at all) is that it is a film about discovering yourself that feels almost noir in pace.
Maybe the noir element is the French-ness, as it is the country that discovered, created, and obsessed over that particular genre. Still the film tends to play up the color palette of the film giving it visually striking scenes with contrasting colors playing against each other setting the tone of the film. And this where the film really moves away from a cannibal film, rather then getting a lot of dark red, blood, and a sort of chaotic splatter of hot colors we get a rather cool film, salmon pink, white, rich greens, that pop from a contrasting use of natural outdoor lighting, nightclub lighting, and deep background lighting. RAW in this way, could easily be mistaken for a family melodrama piece, in the same vein as BEFORE THE WINTER CHILL (2013, dir. Philippe Claudel), then a horror piece.
The theme of the film, that of a young woman finding out who she is, is the key element to this story that breaks it away from the subgenre more famously found in grindhouse films then high art cinema. As mention, the film starts off as a cliché with Alexia finding out everything she knew is wrong. The film progresses though as she begins to entertain the idea of eating raw flesh, first it being fish, then beef, and chicken; until finally it is human flesh. The eating of raw meat become a metaphor for realizing that one is not whole until they discover who they really are. This becomes apparent for Alexia with each serving, as she soon discovers that she, like her sister, has a craving to be unbounded by culture norms. She is not just another school girl, but a strong independent person that demands respect from society. In many regards this film can be seen as a woman empowerment film rather then as another cannibalism genre film. For these reasons, RAW is a must see film.
Raw is set to be released March 10th. No word if it will be coming to Durango, Co.