‘Raw’ is a French language horror film which has been met with universal acclaim since it’s release at Cannes last year. It saw it’s general release last month and finally Northern Irish screens are showing the film too. ‘Raw’ is the story of Justine, a vegetarian who is beginning her first year of veterinary college. However, after one particular hazing ritual a desire for raw meat awakens within her leading to severe consequences.
The narrative follows Justine as she embarks on the next stage of her education. Even before any of the cannibalistic moments occur the portrayal of university life is horrific enough. Hazing rituals, destruction of property and invasion of personal space alone could be the bare bones of many peoples nightmares, even before introducing the next Hannibal Lecter! The narrative is concerned with little else then showcasing Justine’s descent into cannibalism. There isn’t really any other element framing this. I found this to be one of the more challenging aspects of the film. The audience are left to watch the main character do these horrendous things with no other plot points to work with alongside them. There isn’t a detective trying to catch her, there’s no personal struggle with her university work etc. There’s no escaping the raw nature of this story and this will be too much for many viewers. I had to question the character decisions of several individuals throughout this story though. Witnessing what they had and seemingly not reacting just didn’t add up to me. However, the conclusion to the story was especially effective and finally gave the picture some greater narrative substance.
In terms of the level of horror this is easily the most horrific film I’ve ever seen. It makes ‘The Silence of the Lambs’ look like ‘Mary Poppins’. It’s gruesome beyond belief, genuinely having a physical effect on me as I watched. As a result the entire film is a wholly unpleasant experience and not enjoyable at all. Not that the film needed any more atmosphere added to it’s already horrendous content but the score is wonderfully terrifying. It enhances the already present terror created by the extremely gruesome scenes to an alarming level. If the purpose of a horror film is to horrify then ‘Raw’ has succeeded at the highest level. Personally I prefer when horror films blend several narrative elements together such as a character to route for or comedic elements. Unfortunately there is only horror here and I guess that was just too much for me, and I imagine many other audience members would feel the same.
Certainly no endorsement for European veterinary colleges, ‘Raw’ is a cinematic experience like no other. It doesn’t feel like words such as extreme do the content of this film justice. If you’re anything like me you might spend more time looking at the floor then the screen while watching. A broader narrative could have given the framing nessecary for me to enjoy this story but enjoyment doesn’t seem to be a goal for the film-makers here. ‘Raw’ is incredibly well done in places and in others I just don’t know how to critic it making it impossible to assign it a rating.
Question: What is the most horrific film you’ve ever seen?
(Leave your answers in the comments section below!)
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