Screams on Screens: Raw (AKA. Grave) (2016)

Anna Marczynska looks back at one of the latest & best examples of new horror sub-genre dubed 'The New French Extremity'

Anna Marczynska
7th December 2019
Image: IMDB

It strips us down to our basic instincts, makes you feel dirty and uncomfortable- and it’s a good thing. Its title gives you the correct idea about the visual experience this film is. From a close-up of a rash to bloodied human flesh – it’s raw and realistic.

In the beginning it’s just a movie about a young woman going to university, she’s anxious, unsure and doesn't want to stand out. During one of the first scenes we find out that the whole family is vegetarian and they all went to the same school for veterinarians. The main character, Justine (Garance Mariller), has to go through a hazing ritual, during which she is forced by her older sister, Alexia (Ella Rumpf), to eat a rabbit liver.

Justine (Garance Marillier) and Adrien (Rabah Nait Oufella) assessing each other. Image:IMDB

It’s written and directed by Julia Ducournau, this being her first solo undertaking of this scale and with brilliant result. However, it’s not the dialogues that make it such a stirring experience, it's the way she peels off the layers and masks we put on for the society. She strips down the main character to her basic instinct – lust, for human flesh no less and does it quite subtly and gradually.

Even though it’s from 2016 it fits perfectly in the recently thriving group of horror movies that play not with your fears but rather sensibilities and convention. Just as Ari Aster created tension in Midsommaramong flowers and daylight, Rawmakes you more and more uncomfortable as it progresses, until you can barely look at the screen.

Sisters Alexia (Ella Rumpf) and Justine have what you might call a 'troubled' sibling relationship. Image:IMDB

It’s not violent, it just masterfully intertwines shots of farm animals, which people would normally eat, with human flesh presented like food. Those interchanges confuse your sense of what is acceptable and what you should be disgusted by. Then it just leaves you nauseous at the sight of a cow.

I would highly recommend it as part of your Halloween repertoire, if you’re fine with the sight of blood. Lots and lots of blood.

The above trailer is not safe for work, school, home and possibly Earth.
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