You know those going off to college movies. Drinking parties, awkward freshmen hazings. Well in Raw we see one girl who has been seemingly sheltered from life, not really wanting to go with the flow of these rituals and just wants to be who she wants to be and that turns out to be something pretty horrific to the average person.
The performances are solid save for the hyper initiators at the college, who overplayed it to the point of caricature. Our main protagonist Justine's older sister Alexia totally ignores and out right hates her dweeby younger sister and pushes her just as hard as the other rookies at the school in which she is also enrolled. But over time as her younger sister matures their friendship seems to galvanize and they create a bond that is parallel to I think a lot of siblings. It may take a while but there is a maturity level that is reached and things become much better between the two of them when a certain understanding is achieved. It's an interesting look at what makes siblings connect and how far they are willing to go for each other and accept them for who they are.
When you go from being a controlled kid to being set free unto the world sometimes instead of trying one thing you try everything and it can land you in some pretty deep trouble. They go for a very extreme case and it is one that few if anyone outside of family would understand. As much as you want to be normal and fit in, sometimes being different is all you can do and for better or worse at least you are being yourself. They bring this home by making most of the interactions she is supposed to have to be normal swing wildly away from that and fit squarely in her world. She does the things she has been dying to do and it alienates her while keeping her satisfied. She does eventually get brought back down to earth a bit but still manages to be herself in a way I don't think anyone would expect.
The direction, cinematography and score all lend to a very eerie tone. Lots of dark drab colors contrasted by the brightness of neon lit parties. Thumping music and atmostpheric tones keep things on edge and with a no nonsense style that keeps things from feeling too out of this world. It feels like a strange person in a very real world. Showcasing what it's like for a normal college kid and how her experience is just on a different level than most.
Showcasing the ideas of sibling bonds, sexual maturity, partying and why sticking to what you know might hide your true self, this is a film that is not afraid to go weird in expressing it's message. Not as gruesome as some claim it to be but with enough thought to warrant a watch if you like your coming of age films with some heightened reality. I wasn't too taken by it. It felt a little bit light in plot but it makes up for it with an interesting take on coming of age, going all in on metaphor wrapped up in something rather strange.