Not your average horror film...
By now, “Raw” has come to be known as the cannibal film so grotesque that it has caused some theaters to hand out barf bags to the audience so that they wouldn’t run out. I, on the other hand, am a notoriously hard-stomached fan of art horror, so I decided to brave it. I was not disappointed.
Unlike most art horror films, which emphasize style over substance, “Raw” has extremely intelligent writing. The dialogue moves along at a quick pace, and none of the conversations feel unnatural or preachy. The film serves as a metaphorical evaluation of the ethical treatment of animals, and Ducournau uses an intriguing premise to execute this commentary. References to the theme in the film are both direct and indirect, and both are equally effective at illustrating the filmmaker’s point. There is also a surprising (and refreshing) amount of subtle comedic relief worked in through sarcasm.
The commentary of the film is further accented by the way in which the film is executed. Diegetic sound is used in interesting ways to tell the story. The score is amazing, with multiple themes occurring. One of these themes, a series of guitar chords, is soothing in a way that creates a unique tone in the scenes in which it used. This theme is almost always followed by another, darker theme that incorporates synthesizer music. This tonal shift through the music makes the film shift much more smoothly. The film frequently jumps from more dramatic scenes to more horror-oriented scenes, which seemingly creates a jarring effect, however, I actually appreciated this style of writing and editing, as it fits with the point that the film is trying to make.
The character development throughout the film was phenomenal. The protagonist is established to be very sympathetic, which is important to the story. The supporting characters are also all very dynamic, and actually defy the trends of the archetype to which you would have expected them to conform. The only part of the writing that I am unsure of is the ending. I am not going to spoil what it is, as you really need to watch the film yourself, but I have yet to decide whether or not I was fully satisfied by it.
The visual style of the film is quite impressive. The cinematography is absolutely beautiful. From the opening shot, you can tell that the filmmakers have meticulously planned every shot to make a later development make sense. There are some shots in this film that are true cinematic gold, that while I was watching the film, I was extremely curious as to how they got the shot. One is a tracking shot during a party scene, in which the camera seamlessly weaves through a crowd, shifting focus, and showing the audience what the filmmakers want us to see for symbolic purposes. Another utilizes a flashlight, with the film going between darkness and various elements of the production design when they are illuminated by the characters in a scene that is very good at building suspense. The practical effects are also amazing, as can be expected of a film that has made people vomit because of how realistic it looks. I don’t think that they were disgusting enough to warrant vomiting, however, there were a few scenes that were thoroughly disturbing.
Garance Miller delivers a very good breakout performance. She really nails the tonal shifts of the film, with her mannerisms changing with each one. Her acting in some scenes is haunting, which works perfectly for the film. Rabah Naït Oufella is also good in his supporting role, accenting Miller’s character very well and frequently serving as comedic relief.
Overall, I was very impressed by “Raw”. Art horror is definitely one of my favorite genres, and this film is an amazing entry into the genre. It has thought-provoking writing and an excellent visual style. It obviously isn’t for everyone, but if you aren’t squeamish, I definitely recommend checking this one out. “Raw” is in theaters now, and is still expanding to more cities.
Big Tuna's Rating: A
How Did I Watch It?: A press screener.
Had I Seen It Before?: No.
Would I Watch It Again?: Yes.
I am a huge movie fan that wants to tell people about my very varying taste and opinion of film.