Cannibalism meets coming-of-age story in the latest French success. Raw – movie review

Raw is a French-Belgium film written and directed by Julia Ducournau, at her debut behind the camera in a feature-length film.

Substantially marketed as the new Martyrs (2009), according to the legend that people fainted and puked in the earliest screenings, audiences went into Raw expecting an extremely violent, gruesome horror film filled with stomach-turning scenes and I-can’t-watch-this moments.

Instead, Ducournau’s film is a coming-of-age tale with cannibalism elements thrown in the mix.

Raw 2Raw tells the story of rookie student and lifelong vegetarian Justine, who arrives at a veterinary school to start college. A college that looks more like a prison, where the rookies are bullied and obligated to go through different and messed-up challenges. One of those consists of eating a raw rabbit kidney, which Justine refuses to do, at first, and then reluctantly accepts pushed by her older sister Alexia.

From that moment on, Justine develops an insane passion for raw meat that definitely goes too far…

Despite Raw was mis-marketed and the trailers made it look a restless run throughout violence and blood, it’s been acclaimed by audience and critics as one of the best horror movies in recent years.

In all honesty, I struggle to understand why.

Extremely slow-paced, the plot drags from scene to scene, with elongated shots, slow – and quite unrealistic – dialogues, nauseous sequences of rave parties where stroboscopic lightening and delirious music that will give you nothing but migraine.

Raw 3Also, the acting is quite slow and somewhat frustrating; whether it’s because of the script or the cast’s skills, every character in this movie is unlikable. Although, to be fair, Garance Marillier (who portrays Justine) conveys a wide range of emotions and carries the plot along fairly well.

However, my biggest issues with Raw consist of more than that.

Raw GIF.gifFirst of all, everything looks highly implausible. I know, I know: it’s a horror-drama about cannibalism, I shouldn’t expect everything to make sense. Nonetheless, as I stated previously in other reviews, each and every single element should be realistic within the universe of a film. And, in this regard, Raw fails on every level: the unexplained absence of adults, the rampant craziness of the students – who do drugs, destroy facilities, throw food to each other without being stopped by any form of security, the constant lack of explanations make for a very unreliable story.

Don’t get me wrong, though. I understand that the director went for the dream-like, somewhat oneiric route. Nevertheless, this premise might work in a movie like It Follows (2014), set in a timeless and undefined world, but it doesn’t in Raw, where the audience is supposed to believe the plot is taking place in contemporary times.

Which is my second biggest issue with this film. Its atmosphere, backed up by cinematography and photography, makes for an artsy film that is artsy-fartsy for the pure sake of it. In other words, it looks frustratingly pretentious and tries too hard to set itself apart from the other horror flicks.

Again, I must reiterate that I’ve got no problem with artsy horror movies (The Eyes of my Mother – is one of my favourite films in 2017), but the style must be supported by strong and effective contents. Otherwise, the product is a flop. And, sorry to say that, Raw is a flop – at least in my opinion.

However, there are a couple of redeeming qualities, namely the first plot twist – there is also a second one at the very end, but it’s predictable and, again, unsatisfying. Also, the locations are amazing and the fact that the entire movie was shot on location is to be praised.

Furthermore, the absence of false-scares and the lack of gratuitous brutality are a pleasant surprise.

Nevertheless, the standout in Raw is the score: one of the best I’ve listened to the whole year, but unfortunately inadequate to the film. Still, I recommend everyone to download it, it’s worth listening to!

Overall, though, Raw is a quite boring film, featuring an unbalanced pace, senseless sequences, disappointing acting and an uninteresting story. Sincerely, I found it very overhyped and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, unless you want to watch it purely out of curiosity. Cheers!

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A dark fairy tale that will make you grip your chair. The Eyes of my Mother – movie review

Me: Baby, why don’t we watch a random horror movie? Let’s just google some lists of recent films and see what appeals to us.

A: Yeah, sure thing… there’s shitload of crappy movies, though.

Me: Fine, let’s just watch Moana or Safe Heaven then… wait, what’s this one?

A: What is it?

Me: The Eyes of My Mother, a low-budget indie horror which looks quite appreciated on IMDb… plus, it’s only 76 mins long, it won’t be too boring. Wanna watch the trailer?

A: Yup, play it… oh wow, it’s in black and white and looks creepy. I’m down for watching it.

Me: Me too, let’s do this!

 

Eyes of my motherMe: The cinematography looks really cool, there’s barely any dialogue and the atmosphere is indeed unsettling.

A: I love the camera work! Every shot is neat and immaculate… It looks like an artsy-fartsy movie, which I don’t mind like at all.

Me: What language are they speaking?

A: Portuguese

Me: Alright. It sounded familiar. Hey, some words are actually the same in Italian and Spanish, how cool is…

A: What’s that creepy dude doing? What’s he staring at?

Me: No idea, but so far it’s the most dreadful part of the film! Oh, fuck! What’s he gonna do now? This is making me feel sick… Why isn’t she reacting? Oh, the dad just got home and… oh shit! Did he use a hammer?

EyesofMyMother_Trailer2A: Nope, it was the pistol he threatened them with… look, the motherfucker is alive! Wow, she cut his vocal chords and ripped off his eyes.

Me: Gross!

 

Me: The relationship between Francisca and her dad is sick! And look, the psycho is still alive… they keep him alive, making him live like a freaking animal. Which he deserved, by the way.

A: Yeah, I don’t even know if he’s her real dad. Also, I think she has no idea whatsoever about human relationships… she’s been raised with no other contacts than her mentally ill parents – or whatever they are.

Me: Definitely… oh, what’s she doing with her dad?

A: I think he’s dead. She’s keeping the body and pretending he’s alive.

Me: She went out. So now she hooks up with this Asian lady… right?

A: Yeah, I don’t think she has any idea about sexuality, though. She’s just trying not to remain alone.

eomm2Me: This dialogue is so surreal. She’s so calm and threatening at the same time… what a great, subtle performance by this… Kika Magalhaes. Oh, she’s actually Portuguese. Great performance, no jokes.

A: She won’t let the other girl leave…

Me: No chance! Here it comes… that was very clever. I love when horror movies understand that sometimes less means more and not showing too much could make a scene more effective.

A: Where’s she going now?

Me: She’s going to visit the murderer.

A: Why’s she untying him? Oh, please tell me she’s not gonna do that! It’s disgusting!

Me: She’s sick in the head. Oh, boy, he’s trying to run away from her… that’s not gonna work, buddy.

A: That was brutal! And she shows no emotions on her face…

Me: Brutal, indeed! Hey, Francisca, I guess he was already dead at the 10th stab, the other 20 or so weren’t necessary!

 

A: Where’s she going now?

Me: No idea. But this shot is astounding. The photography is brilliant.

A: Oh, no! Why did you pick her up?

Me: Exactly, why would you do that with your baby in the car?

A: Because everybody will trust a seemingly fragile, young and quite pretty girl.

Me: Alright, now she’s screwed! Poor baby… and poor mom! She’s done the same procedure she did to the murder.

A: Her soundless scream gave chills to my spine.

Me: Agreed. This film is so cleverly unsettling and it gets creepier scene by scene.

A: Look, years have passed now. The boy grew up and the mom… for Christ’s sake, she’s still chained and imprisoned!

Me: I think Francisca’s doing with the boy what her “mom” has done with her before. She’s basically trying to build a new messed up family.

A: Good boy! There must be some good in him, he’s not been fully intoxicated by cruelty.

Me: Do you think she’ll be able to call the police?

A: Yup, can you hear the sirens?

Me: Yes! Finally!

A: Good ending, but this is one of those movies where I’d have liked to know more, go more in-depth…

Me: Which is good, this film surprised me beyond every expectation! I’m gonna review and praise it asap.

 

The Eyes of My Mother is an artsy-fartsy horror drama/ dark fairy tale which tells the story of Francisca, a young girl who will haunt your dreams. I decided to write a different review – which isn’t really a review, it’s the experience my girlfriend and I had watching this film – because this motion picture is so unique that deserves something more.

 

Shot entirely in black and white, this indie movie is an amalgamation between great acting, astounding cinematography, immaculate editing, amazing sounds design and a gripping story told in a highly unconventional way.

 

I’m not going to give anything else away. Just check The Eyes of my Mother out. You won’t regret it. Cheers!