PLOT: After a hazing ritual that forces her to eat raw meat, a veterinary student develops an insatiable appetite for flesh.
It’s official: this is the most uncomfortable that I’ve been throughout 31 Days of Horror, and that’s a compliment. Raw is a pretty unconventional horror film; it’s about as psychological horror as it is physical horror, and it has both in spades.
Justine is a vegetarian heading into her first year at a prestigious veterinarian school. Much like any Greek society that you would see on American college campuses, this vet school has a bit of a Hell Week, where first-year students have to obey every whim of the older students, from crawling on their hands and knees across campus to eating raw rabbit kidneys. Having not participated in any sort of Greek life, I can only assume this is typical, but Justine may not be a typical young woman. After her first taste of meat, she can’t shake the need to consume more.
Raw is an intense experience and a fine piece of horror filmmaking. Much like Ginger Snaps (a film we reviewed for 31 Days of Horror), Raw tells the story of emerging sexuality as a body horror story. Entering school, protagonist Justine is reserved, a good girl and admitted virgin. It isn’t until she starts giving into her own hunger does she start to explore what she wants in the carnal pursuits. I mean, it’s probably not an accident that it all kicks off with a finger. It also delves into sibling rivalry and the sexual competitiveness that can arise between two sisters of similar age. This is, in effect, a coming-of-age story wrapped in a cannibalism film.
It’s a pretty effective film and one that can be pretty unsettling at times, but it’s one of my favorite films that I’ve seen so far this month and might find it’s way into my top 10 of the year.
There’s plenty of gore in this, but more importantly, it’s more about quality over quantity. There isn’t fountains of blood or decapitations in this, but it really only takes a severed finger in this to make you wince.
Gore Rating: 5 out of 5
This film isn’t conventionally scary; there’s no ghosts jumping out at you, but it’s more of a fear of what’s going to happen next. As Justine learns what she’s capable of, we are along for the ride and it can be pretty unnerving.
Scare Rating: 3 out of 5
There’s a pretty interesting sex scene between Justine and her roommate, which is a cross between a fight and actual intercourse. Otherwise, you get a few flash of boobs here and there, but it usually feels incidental, so it’s not typical horror film nudity.
Nudity Rating: 4 out of 5
Raw lives up to its name; plain and simple. It’s an unsettling coming-of-age story that just so happens to involve a girl with cannibalistic tendencies. The gore makes you uncomfortable, the relationship between Justine and her sister is troubling, and when it is all said and done, you walk away with an incredibly unique experience. It’s not for everyone, but if you don’t mind some subtitles and like horror with a little bit of allegory, this is a must see.
Overall Rating: 8 out of 10