On the recommendation from Mark Kermode in his 2017 Best Of list I dived right into the film that made the top of his list, Raw. While Raw is a 2016 film Mark’s list encompasses films that were released in the UK in 2017, of which Raw is one. I’d of course heard about Raw some time ago, its the film that had people fainting and vomiting in their seats, or so the press releases would like us to believe. And while I have grown a much thicker skin (no pun intended…) over the last several years for the more gory types of films, I wouldn’t actually consider this one to be too far on the gory side (not when compared to the drivel that passes for TV now in crap such as Walking Dead and American Horror anyway); that being said, however, it is not for the faint of heart or stomach to be sure. While you do get some bloody bits, and some open wounds, etc, its really the thought of what’s going on that should, and will, terrify you. Or said another way, this is a great freaking film!
I won’t give much of anything away, and I’d strongly recommend you not reading too much on it before you see it (if you’re going to see it…), because as Kermode rightly says in his review, this is one you want to discover as you go. But I will point out some nice similarities to other horror/thriller films of the past, mainly because this film does a good job of invoking those other films (I assume at least some of these were intentional).
First off, and I mean right from the opening scenes, I immediately said “And Soon the Darkness” aloud. The empty county road with the trees lining the sides is right out of AStD, which makes sense since both films were made in France (albeit 46 year apart). I’d love to find that this was the exact same road, but I think that’s probably a stretch.
Next up we have one of the more obvious ones, Carrie. Its not giving anything away on Raw to say there is a scene early on in which the entire freshman class gets covered in blood (and since this is a vet college I doubt it was supposed to be fake blood, although hopefully not human).
This next one is probably not really a thing, but it does serve to point out the color pallet of Raw. There is definitely a color code going on, with the reds (meat?) and the greens (sex?).
And then finally we get a couple of Kubrik (A Clockwork Orange to be exact) hints. The first (in red again) is one of the more freaky bits, in which our main character is obviously going through something, um, special, in the middle of a rave. As the camera gets closer to he you might be forgiven for thinking of that other somewhat special student, Alex.
And then finally as the film ends and the credits cue up we get a nice smattering of RED, again, just like Stanley does in ACWO. However I didn’t immediately think of Kubrick at this point. What I actually got was a very 70’s European horror film vibe, with the dark red and the organ music; and in fact that really what this entire film feels like, like something out of a different time when horror was not just gross-out but also thought provoking.