Written By: Stephanie Pislis
Edited by: Grave Reviews Staff
Rating: 3.5/5 Graves
The film Raw, or better known under its original French title Grave, is infamous for having caused viewers to faint at the International film festival screening in Toronto. Viewers expressed their sentiments as nauseating and some were even supposedly hospitalized due to their loss of consciousness. The film, which is sometimes referred to as a “cannibal-coming-of-age” story, follows the life of Justine, a young woman who comes from a family of vegetarians and veterinarians. Justine and her older sister, Alexia, continue their family tradition by attending the same elite veterinary school as their parents previously attended.
Following Justine’s admittance, a group of senior students round up the newcomers for a rather intense hazing ritual. Firstly, the newbies are unexpectedly drenched in gallons of animal blood, a scene that is reminiscent of the famous pig’s blood scene in Carrie. The new students are then forced to consume a raw rabbit kidney as a form of initiation. Being a vegetarian, Justine hesitates when it comes to eating the kidney. However, her sister reminds her that if she wants to be accepted, she must do as she is told. Wanting nothing more than to fit in, Justine hesitantly eats the raw organ. Following the kidney consumption, Justine begins to experience a rather unusual symptom. She develops an insatiable craving for meat. She goes to great extents to hide this newfound guilty pleasure. Often, she will steal hamburger patties from the school cafeteria and secretly gnaw on the raw poultry.
A Vegetarian gone Cannibal? Still cheaper than the organic section.
One evening, after having a few drinks, the sisters decide to wax Justine’s bikini line. When some of the wax gets stuck on Justine’s inner thigh, the tipsy Alexia resorts to using extremely sharp industrial-sized scissors to remove the excess wax. Justine flinches and Alexia accidentally cuts off her own finger. The maimed Alexia passes out from pure shock. Justine finds herself alone with her sister’s severed finger and simply cannot resist the overwhelming urge to eat the tantalizing raw flesh that is in front of her. This appalling scene gives the term “finger food” a whole new meaning! When Alexia eventually wakes, she finds her sister savagely gnawing on the finger. Her reaction is rather underwhelming. We later find out that this is because Alexia too secretly shares this bizarre craving for human flesh.
RAW gives the term “finger food” a whole new meaning!
Once her secret has been exposed, Alexia attempts to mentor her younger sister in the art of cannibalism. She shares her own personal techniques with Justine. One example includes jumping out in front of moving vehicles in order to cause road accidents. She then feasts upon the deceased flesh, sharing her prey with her sister. One day however, Alexia takes it too far by killing Justine’s roommate. Alexia is imprisoned, and, after experiencing such a traumatic event, Justine immediately returns home to her family. We ultimately discover that this cannibalistic “gene” seems to be passed down through the female members of the family. Not only do the two sisters share this gruesome desire, but the pair’s mother must also live with this insatiable urge. This secret is revealed to Justine by her father. He explains to her that her mother, his wife, consensually feasts upon him and has been doing so for years. The film ends with Justine’s father revealing his chest full of scars.
Raw has been criticized by viewers as being a feminist film that centers around women devouring men. However, French filmmaker, Julia Ducournau, states that the character Justine is meant to represent all humans regardless of sex, age or race. The carnal and carnivorous impulses that Justine experiences are meant to be viewed as a metaphor for our latent lusts and desires. These desires are not uncommon, rather they are part of primordial human nature. Personally, I also view the cannibalism expressed in this film as a metaphor for the innate animalistic nature that lurks deep within the core of all us. This film serves to prove that no matter how hard we try to sublimate our urges, the overpowering impetus of these lusts will often overpower our will.
The innate animalistic nature lurks within the core of all us
This film was very well done and beautifully executed. The atmosphere of the film conveys a somber and morbid feel that reflects the ugly and raw side of human nature. Do not watch this film expecting a typical slasher horror film, if you do you will be sadly disappointed! Rather, dive into this movie if you are looking for something with a deeper and more powerful message. Dive deep into the dark crevices of human nature with Raw!
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