52 FILMS BY WOMEN: #13. RAW (Grave) (2016) [France/Belgium] – Julia Ducournau


#13. RAW (Grave) (2016) France/Belgium

Julia Ducournau


RAW is a nuanced story of love, secrets, & acceptance.

I read a comment on this film calling it a slow Ginger Snaps, but I think that fan (of possibly the horror genre) missed the subtle subplots.

In the film, Justine (an adamant Vegetarian) is dropped off by her parents at Vet School for her first year joining her sister who is already attending the institution and discovers the family has a long history at the university.


The Hazing begins.

Justine and her roommate Adrien find themselves under attack with the rest of the freshman as they are scared and degraded and sent to…their first campus party.

But yelling at freshman in the middle of the night is only the beginning, soon Justine learns that she must eat meat as part of the freshman rituals. (A Rabbits liver) and after much protest,  and asking her sister to intervene, here sister Alexia force feeds her the meat and opens a can of worms for the freshman.

Taking a “Walk on the Dark Side” is putting it mildly as obsession and cannibalism ensues and the girls learn of the darkness that binds and divides them.

Bells rang when I watched this film as well, but not for Ginger Snaps. I began thinking of 2 other female directors that dealt with Blood/Skin Obsession…Clair Denis (Trouble Every Day/ -2001) and Marina de Van (In my Skin/Dans ma Peau-2002).

While Denis’ Trouble every day was more focused on the male obsession with a blood disease, bells and whistles rang as I evaluated DANS MA PEAU and realized that the actor Laurent Lucas (also of Wild Bunch’s Calvaire) played a male counterpart in both films (Dans ma Peau/RAW).

I don’t know if  Ducournau was asked if Lucas’ role in Dans ma Peau was something she had seen or if the film spurred something in her towards her idea, but one could definitely make the case for a crossover here.  Without spoiling it…France/Belgium could see their first Horror Franchise if all parties could be brought to the table.

Returning to nuanced subplots and sub-themes.

Yes there was…

-The sister rivalry

-The love interest/BFF

-The Secret

But, the subtle way it played out in this film including the…

-Truth of hazing

-Straight Girl with a Bi/Gay Guy – BFF gray lines

-The Vegetarian A+ Vet student versus the jaded/bias biology professor who prefers med over vet students.

It offered so much more.

All-in-all, this is an amazing recipe for young adult angst. There is (on its own) an underbelly to a student’s first year in college away from home and this film captured the idea in an heightened take.