Raw (2016): 3 Ways to Think of It

Raw got rave reviews when it was released at Cannes in 2016. What kind of movie is it? Is it a comedy, a horror, a slice-of-life flick? Check out three ways we can think about the movie, and see which aspect of it you like best.


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A Body Horror Film

From the name of the movie itself, you would expect that Raw deals with flesh and blood. You’re not wrong at all. The horror of Raw stems from Justine’s discovery of meat.

Justine, a young vegetarian and aspiring vet, is the main character of the movie. As part of the initiation in vet school, she was asked to eat a piece of rabbit kidney. Pressured by her older sister Alexia to not look like a quitter, she eats meat for the first time and triggers a desire and thirst for flesh that she didn’t know she had.

Movie theaters showing Raw gave sick bags to the audience since the movie was allegedly too gory. Personally, I don’t really think the movie was THAT gory. Probably the worst scene was a half-eaten leg, but it’s definitely not at the level of August Underground’s Mordum.

The gore in Raw is not self-indulgent. It’s presented only when it’s important to the overall narrative.


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A Coming-of-Age Movie

Justine’s entry into veterinary school marked her transition into adulthood, The movie presents Justine as a fish out of water, Initially a virgin and a vegetarian, at the end of the movie, Justine is neither of those things.

Raw uses cannibalism as a metaphor for sexual desire. Justine develops feelings for her gay roommate at the same time her desire for meat intensifies.

The movie presents a stark contrast between Justine and her sister Alexia. Justine is this meek girl who inhibits her desires, while Alexia is a party animal who freely gives into carnal pleasures. An interesting dynamic exists between the two as Alexia tries to groom Justine from a girl into a full-fledged woman.


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A Black Comedy

Raw’s mood is bleak from beginning to end, but there are certain sprinkles of comedic moments here and there.

Probably the most notable one is the bonding moment of the siblings Justine and Alexia, during which Alexia waxes Justine’s nether regions. A wax strip gets stuck on Justine, beginning a hilarious yet disturbing chain of misfortunes.

Another hilarious moment happens near the end. When a particularly embarrassing clip of Justine (filmed by no other than Alexia) circulated around the vet school, Justine’s claws came out and promptly confronted her sister in a public space. The scene answered a question none of us probably though of:  how do cannibals fight each other?

Check out the trailer:

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