‘Raw’ is a Devious Deviation from the Coming-of-Age Tale

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I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a coming-of-age tale as twisted and demented as writer-director Julia Ducournau’s Raw. This movie has all the hallmarks of the coming-of-age drama – youthful angst, jealousy, family tension, sexual awakening. But there’s something that Raw has that no other coming-of-age movie that I’ve seen does – cannibalism. Making her feature length writing-directing debut, Julia Ducournau has crafted a shocking, thrilling piece of cinema that turns two genres on its head. Raw can appeal to the bloodthirsty gorehounds and the cineastes that want more than just excessive blood and guts.

Young Justine (Garance Marillier) has just been dropped off at a veterinarian school out in the country by her parents. This young woman is shy and withdrawn, and strictly adheres to her vegetarian diet. But she was unprepared for the ritualistic hazing that occurs at the school with late night dorm raids and early morning calls, all of which Justine is coached through by her older sister Alexia (Ella Rumpf). Throughout it all, Justine forms a friendship with her roommate Adrien (Rabah Nait Oufella), even becoming attracted to the young man. Things take a turn when the hazing rituals force Justine to break her strict vegetarian ways and consume a raw rabbit kidney. A horrific rash breaks out across her skin and her appetites slowly begin to change. This shy young woman starts to break out of her shell and becomes more assertive in her social life. But there’s a dark side to these new appetites, both grizzly and ghastly.

Julia Ducournau allows the audience time to understand the mentality of Justine before twisting the character in a variety of ways. We’re witness to this young woman as she’s entering a harsh world of college, with hazing and judgmental students, and she just tries to keep her head down, work on her studies, and not draw attention to herself. Garance Marillier gives an astounding performance in the uncomfortable skin of the character. She’s withdrawn and alluring as she tries to figure out herself in the environment of college life. But when the awakening of her inner darkness occurs, it’s a slow escalation that is mysterious in nature and gruesome in presentation. The causes of her drift into cannibalism are withheld until the film’s final scene, which is one of the most shocking twists in recent memory.

The escalation of Raw is as captivating as horror can get, slowly building in tension as layers of mystery are slowly revealed. So much of the tension comes from Justine not understanding the changes that her body is going through, a form of feminine horror that is equal parts body and mind. There’s a growing rift between Justine and Alexia, with the older sister knowing more than she lets on and a swelling jealousy as Justine learns Alexia has the phone number of Adrien. Raw has much on its mind about sibling rivalries and the shifts in the relationship between Justine and Alexia drives this thematic undercurrent in a constantly surprising manner, one that plays against the backdrop of Justine’s attempts at a romantic relationship with her roommate.

Raw will chill you to your core in its ghastly twist on the coming-of-age tale. It’s a masterful piece of filmmaking from an emerging talent in Julia Ducournau, who has guaranteed immediate interest in whatever piece of madness she decides to follow up Raw with. This is a horror film that’s not like anything I’ve seen before, a horrific tale of self-discovery and living in the shadow of your family. Well after the shocking final scene, the events of Raw will get under your skin and haunt you for days to come in what is one of the best uses of horror filmmaking in some time.

  • Overall Score


A devious twist on the coming-of-age movie, Raw is a horrific tale of self-discovery with intense drama and ghastly gore.

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