Welcome to Will Mom Like This? an exploration into the trials and tribulations of sharing your favorite scary movies with family. Sharing movies with loved ones is a beautiful thing. As beautiful as it is, I think we have all experienced moments so uncomfortable you wish the couch would swallow you whole. In this monthly column, I’m going to try and help you avoid that as much as possible. My hope is that this will work as a sort of guide for you to know when you should excuse yourself to refill the popcorn bowl and avoid the wrath of a disgruntled or disgusted parent. Be warned, we will be discussing a lot of plot spoilers but only so we don’t spoil a perfectly good evening with your folks.
This month on Nightmare on Film Street, we are celebrating Women in Horror Month by highlighting some of the best achievements in horror helmed by women in front of and behind the camera. Luckily, that left me with a wealth of options to choose from when trying to decide on a movie to subject my mom to this month. You’re just going to have to believe me that I sincerely thought I had done a good thing when I landed on director Julia Ducournau’s Raw (2016). I first watched this movie about a young cannibal vet student played by Garance Marillier a few years back and the thing I remembered the most was how much I enjoyed it. In my excitement over finding what I thought could be a perfect pick for my mom, I neglected to remember how objectively gross this movie is. Was she able to look past the alarming amounts of gore in this movie to actually enjoy herself? Um…read on to find out!
In classic My Mom fashion, we made it about five minutes into the movie before she demanded that they “pick up the pace.” She definitely got what she asked for, but not before various layers of set up to the movie, all of which my mother disapproved of. Raw follows a young veterinarian student, Justine (Garance Marillier), as she embarks on her first year of vet school, and the horrifying lifestyle change she is subjected to along the way. Right away, when Justine’s parents abruptly drop her off with all of her belongings at school, I could hear my mom clucking her tongue in disapproval. That’s just how my mom is though, it was an entire song and dance when I got dropped off at college, so I knew that this departure would rub her the wrong way.
It then certainly did not help that the first week of Justine’s school experience involves some of the most brutal hazing I’ve ever seen in my life. Now I don’t know if it is the norm for French veterinary schools to be this intense, but this school had kids getting dragged out of bed, having all their possessions scattered around the campus, getting soaked in blood, and oh yeah, eating a raw rabbit kidney. Throughout all of this hazing, my mom was making her distaste known, and known loudly, and while I thought the kidney reveal would get a spectacular reaction, all I got out of her was “I must reiterate I do not like this school.” Even when there wasn’t active hazing on screen, she was still very against the practices at this veterinary school. For example, we find Justine’s sister Alexia (Ella Rumpf), shoulder deep in the ass of a cow, scooping out poop with her hands, and somehow that seemed to be one of the worst things for my mom. She was covering her face and eyes in any way possible, using all variety of props, and screaming “everyone in this movie is so gross.”
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Sex and Nudity
But don’t worry, Raw isn’t all horrific hazing and cannibalism, there’s also a side of sexuality! It is a French movie after all. During the first night of the aforementioned hazing, there is a truly wild party involving students in various stages of undress. For the most part, my mom was fairly amused by the surprise nudity, saying things like “oh hello,” when presented with a pair of boobs and, “heh heh heh, butts.” This was the standard reaction as most of the events of sex and nudity happen very suddenly, so there wasn’t any real time for us to despair.
One scene of hazing in particular involves Justine getting covered in blue paint and instructed to make out with a boy drenched in yellow paint until they both turn green. It feels important for me to note that my mom and I were watching Raw together over Zoom and my dad chose this very moment to enter the room and say hi to me. It’s very possible I ruined the ambiance of the scene because I proceeded to talk very loudly and gesture wildly with my hands in an effort to distract him from the debauchery taking place on screen. Justine bites the boy’s lip or tongue off at one point and I don’t think my dad noticed a single thing going on so I count that as a win. My mom laughed the entire time.
The final sexual act in Raw happens between Justine and her roommate Adrien (Rabah Nait Oufella), who just so happened to be my mom’s favorite character. By favorite character, I mean Adrien was the only character that she liked, and in fact the moment he showed up in the movie she said “oh my God don’t eat your roommate,” and I fell SILENT. Her protective streak didn’t end there because even throughout this sex scene, she was so consumed with worry that she wasn’t even in the frame of mind to make it uncomfortable, just saying “careful she bites.” And speaking of biting, it’s time to address the elephant in the room with the movie Raw.
The Cannibalism of it All
This movie is full of cannibalism, which I already knew would be a tough sell for my mom, but even before we get to straight up flesh eating, Justine’s progression into a cannibal is equally disturbing. After eating the rabbit kidney, Justine develops a nearly full body rash that my mom immediately had a big problem with and then Justine starts scratching and peeling off her flaking skin which had my mom chanting “please stop,” over and over again. Moving on from the rash, Justine levels up to chewing on her own hair which has the unexpected consequence of her vomiting up massive quantities of hair. My mom screamed, then fell silent, and then said “this is filthy and I’m sick of it.” Unfortunately for her there was one whole hour left to go.
One scene in the movie centers around Justine’s sister attempting to give her a bikini wax. From my first viewing of Raw, I remembered that something heinous happened during this scene, but I couldn’t remember exactly what, so my mom and I were both very nervous with a lot of giggling and squirming from the both of us. The wax gets stuck on an extremely sensitive part of Justine’s body and my mom was screaming “why oh why is this happening?” Alexia then takes out the biggest pair of scissors in the world to try and remove the wax, but Justine lashes out, severing Alexia’s finger in the process. My mom was quick to catch on to where we were going with this, shouting “DO NOT tell me she is going to eat that finger, Jesus Christ!”
“[…] ‘My worst fears have come true!’ my mom yelled in despair, shaking her fist at the sky.“
I said nothing, because of course she eats that finger! She eats that finger slowly and in close up shots and my mom was screaming incoherently the whole time. Much like Justine (pre-cannibalism) my mom and I are both vegetarians, so perhaps that made this hit closer to home. After this turning point, there’s a good deal of flesh eating done by Justine and Alexia, who is also revealed to have the same affliction as her sister. My mom threw her hands up in exasperation, complaining “so all of a sudden they’re cannibals!” and I had to argue that I don’t think it was all of a sudden at all. Sudden or not, I found I couldn’t argue with her next complaint that there is just “too much biting” going on in Raw, because she had a compelling point there.
And finally, we can’t forget about Justine’s roommate Adrien, my mom’s MVP of the movie, who absolutely gets eaten after they have sex. Justine wakes up in the morning and removes the covers to reveal Adrien’s entire leg eaten almost down to the bone. “My worst fears have come true!” my mom yelled in despair, shaking her fist at the sky. However, I do want to point out that once she recovered from this trauma, she did think that the exposed leg bone looked pretty cool, because it does.
Miscellaneous Pearls of Wisdom
While I was able to fit most of my moms thoughts, complaints, and reflections into the above categories, there were a handful of essential quotes that defy categorization, so I will present those to you below:
- “Props for not eating any penises”
- “I don’t think they know where this movie is going.” I asked her who “they” were and she said, “the people!”
- “I can’t believe there’s so many cool vets in France”
- “Who knows what kind of movies Amazon will recommend to me now!”
But Did Mom Like It?
So, the time came to ask the question, did Mom like that? No. 1/5 moms would recommend. I feel confident in saying this given that I have her on record saying “I hate this movie.” When the credits rolled, she was no happier than she was throughout our viewing, because even though the characters made her “sick to [her] tummy,” she was still hoping for some more resolution. So in that sense, Raw was simultaneously too much and not enough. By the end, I was so surprised with myself for ever thinking she would like this movie in the first place, so this outcome is really my bad. She did say that she had fun watching it with me, but it’s ultimately a tough watch that’s hard to recommend. I should also mention that the next day she texted me saying she thought about the movie more and found some things to appreciate about it, but it was still too gross for her. If you have a parental figure who is entirely desensitized to blood and gore, I do think here is the potential for them to enjoy this movie, because it is very good, but under the most common circumstances, I would still say tread carefully.
Have you ever made the mistake of thinking your mom could focus on the artistic merit of Raw beyond all the cannibalism? Are you now going to give it a try despite my warning? What’s your favorite memory of watching uncomfortable movies with mom? Let us know what scary movie have you always wanted to watch with your parents over on Twitter, in the Nightmare on Film Street Subreddit. and on Facebook in the Horror Movie Fiend Club. We’ll do our best to give you a heads up of everything you’ll want to avoid, but don’t blame us if they disown you!