Raw ★★★★½

A dog is no good after tasting human flesh. If it likes it, it may start to bite.


Well that... Certainly was a movie...

I feel like addressing right away why there's half a star missing there: the ending caught me off-guard, I guess? It's not what happens, that was fine and perfectly fitting for the film, it's the timing. 99% of the film flows at a flawless pacing, then comes the end and I feel like it ended about 3 minutes before it should have? I felt like there was something very small, but important missing. It may have been just a first-time shock, maybe the end will grow on me upon a rewatch and I'll deliver that half a star eventually, but for now...

Anyway, fuck me. This was GOOD.

To me, Raw feels like a spiritual sequel or successor to Ginger Snaps. Two sisters, one bad girl and the other good girl, face the dramas of being a teenage female in constant physical transformation into adulthood, metaphorized in the gradual descent into madness and development of a taste for blood. In Ginger Snaps, it's lycanthropy; in Raw, it's cannibalism. In Ginger Snaps, it's on highschool; in Raw, it's on college. In Ginger Snaps, bad girl sister is the one going nuts; In Raw, good girl sister is the one going nuts.

This is a coming-of-age movie gone sideways in the most visceral way possible. While Ginger had a lot of psychological weight to it, it is perceived more as a body horror film, and with Raw we have just the opposite; we have plenty of intense body horror here, but the movie is definetely at its strongest with the psychological horror. As Justine loses her innocence, the atmosphere gets heavier and heavier, and it's through small mannerisms developed here and there that we get this nerve-wracking feeling that something horrible is about to happen. The way she looks at people, the way she chews on her own hair. Truth be told, at many times during this movie, I found it hard to breathe.

The score by Jim Williams is amazing and iconic. It gives a synth-gothic vampiristic tone to the film, and between that and some key moments throughout, I can't help but to perceive Raw as a vampire movie. There isn't anything mystical or supernatural going on, but there are direct visual rhymes to vampire mythology here, and it certainly felt demoniac, and disturbingly sexy at several times - I swear this is one scene away from being a fetishistic dream come true. The gorgeous cinematography also contributed to that; as vile as the film's content is, it refuses to look anything other than beautiful. The way colors are manipulated in a single shot, how the DoP plays around in between the tones of red, how they overlay one color in the foreground with another in the background, how they use natural lighting... It's stunning. The art direction also got my attention with its punctual use of red. Everytime there's red on screen, it's in a midst that hightlights it amongst the other colors, making it very memorable.

I just can't believe this is a debut. Julia Ducournau came with a fucking monster and I can't wait to see whatever she does next. Her shots in here are so mesmerizing, and there's so much to look at in her mise-en-scène. I always pay attention in how a director uses stabilishing shots, and Ducournau made some very interesting choices in that matter, in which the montage was a big player too. She lays the terrain for something which we have no idea what might be, and then explores it masterfully in the next cuts.

I was looking forward to this movie and I'm pleased to say I loved it a lot. The timing of the ending might need to grow on me, but everything other than that is spot on. Ducournau knows every move, right on the fucking dot; and afterwards, we see fireworks, supernovas. Raw is a goddamn force of nature.

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