I’m a sucker for coming-of-age movies. Even if it wasn’t my favorite film of last year, I absolutely ADORED Edge of Seventeen, and, years before, I was obsessed with movies like Perks of Being A Wallflower and The Way, Way Back. Sure, they’re far from perfect, but come on, aren’t we all allowed a guilty pleasure? So when you interject an incredibly interesting coming-of-age story into a gory and brutal horror film, I’m completely sold and on board, no matter what. That’s exactly what Julia Ducournau’s Raw is. Raw follows the story of Justine (Garance Marillier), a young vegetarian who is just starting her freshman year at a veterinarian school. After a rough hazing ritual by the other students where they force Justine to eat a piece of meat, Justine starts to secretly crave the taste of flesh. Unfortunately, those cravings are of the human kind, thus beginning Justine’s transformation into a full-on cannibal. Mix a story of a young woman going through her freshman year of college and a bucket load of blood, and you have Raw.
A big part of Raw’s success is really the marketing of the film. From stories of film festival attendees passing out and throwing up everywhere to being called the grossest movie of all time, Raw had the kind of hype in the horror movie realm that few are graced with. So does Raw live up to that hype? Yes and no. It’s not as gory or as brutal as those reviews say it is, but DAMN it is just such a great movie. To call Raw a horror film might be a bit of a stretch, and I think that’s really what makes it work. Instead of working toward grossing you out or making you retch, Raw tells such a phenomenal story of a young woman finding her place in this world, and shedding her old skin with it, by using the cannibalism as a metaphor of that change. Brilliant! All of this is punctuated by Garance Marillier’s performance as Justine, which really drives this film to new heights of greatness.
I’m sorry to tell you that Raw isn’t that gross-out horror film you’ve been hyped up to expect, but what it lacks in gore, it makes up for in story telling. This character piece transcends both the horror and coming-of-age genres, and that is why Raw is phenomenal in every way, shape, and form.
dir. Julia Ducournau
Screens Saturday, 2/24, 11:59 PM @ Coolidge Corner Theatre
Part of the ongoing series: Women in Horror Month