• Sebastian Griffin

'Raw' and Genetic Predisposition

I have recently started to grapple with how alcoholism has affected my family and how I am genetically predisposed to fall into similar habits. This was brought on due to my granduncle being sent to the hospital with doctors saying that he was suffering from cerebral atrophy after spending the two weeks prior in his trailer not eating and drinking himself nearly to death. Earlier in the year, I had a cousin a few years older than me on my father’s side overdose and pass. Countless other family members on my father’s side have struggled with substances. My dad himself can struggle with it, but he does not get violent, just obnoxious and annoying, which is better than what most people have experienced. My mom’s half-brother also has a history of alcoholism and becoming aggressive while drunk and driving under the influence on a regular enough basis that he still does it, even after having been sent to jail for it. I have been fairly straightlaced and have only drank on a few occasions and have been drunk once in my life. Despite happening only once, everyone in my immediate family and my girlfriend were worried and upset because I drank too much in too little time. They were not happy with my cavalier attitude and how impressed I was that I was able to drink that much without having any serious health repercussions. I told everyone it wouldn’t happen again, and so far it hasn't, but my promise was half-assed, if I’m being honest, because I enjoyed the experience and want to do it again. However, after hearing the news about my granduncle and how doctors said he would never be the same, I have been contemplating this thing–this disease–I have to bear and weigh it against my own hedonistic enjoyment and the numberless issues that may arise from my genetic predisposition.

Raw (2016) is a French horror film by Julia Ducournau. Justine (Garance Marillier) goes off to the same veterinary school that her older sister Alexia (Ella Rumpf) attends. The sisters did not eat meat growing up per their parents’ lifestyle, but during a hazing ritual Justine is forced to eat raw meat, despite her protests. Peer pressure and proliferation through her social circle create an environment where she feels that she needs to do this. After that, Justine starts to develop a hunger that she can barely control, the beginnings of an addiction. After a bikini wax gone wrong, Alexia’s finger gets cut off and Justine eats it as if it were a chicken wing. Her addiction is worsening here as she is actually enjoying it, despite her knowing that she shouldn’t. Alexia shows Justine how she feeds her own addiction by making cars crash and then feasting on the victims. Justine is disgusted, but Alexia tells her that this is how she will be able to feed her hunger. Alexia’s addiction is at the point where she is ruining and ending other’s lives for her own benefit and pleasure. During a tense sexual encounter with her roommate, Adrien (Rabah Nait Oufella), Justine almost bites him, but instead bites into her own arm so hard that she bleeds.

She is now harming herself with her addiction, which itself is now linked to physical sensations of pleasure. She cannot enjoy her carnal desires without satisfying her hunger for flesh. The sisters go to a party where Justine gets drunk and Alexia dangles the arm of a cadaver from the morgue in her face, causing the drunk Justine to bite at it like an animal. A couple days later Justine wakes up in bed next to Adrien, but notices that his leg has bites taken out of it and that there is a stab wound in his back. Then she sees Alexia, slumped on the floor and covered in blood. Alexia is subsequently sent to prison for the murder.

I was rarely able to sneak drinks as a teenager and after talking to some friends at college and hearing that their parents let them drink in the house underage, it made me want to drink even more. Seeing that other people I knew were able to partake in this made me impatient and made me feel like I was falling behind in my social development. I didn’t drink at all during my first year of college, mainly due to a lack of access, but it just made me want it more. When I was finally able to drink at a party, I decided to drink as much as possible without going overboard, or at least what I thought was a responsible amount in two hours. I was later told that I drank about as much as my uncle who has multiple DUIs, to which I responded by being impressed that I was able to have that much without acting like him or behaving as recklessly. I have come to realize that I am not an exception, and that I can end up like my relatives if I don’t keep myself in check. Both in my life and in this film I have seen what addiction can do and how it can ruin so many lives.

The final scene of the film is a conversation between Justine and her father, where he tells her that the death is neither her or her sister’s fault. He recounts how their mother did not want to be with him, but realized after their first kiss why she resisted his advances, and the audience notices that his lip is deformed and looks like he was bitten. He takes off his shirt to reveal that his torso is ridden with scars and bite marks. He tells Justine that she will find a solution. They’ve tried to figure out how to stop this, but it’s evident that this affliction was passed down. Justine, like me, has inherited something that will hurt everyone she loves and can ruin her own life. She has to figure out on her own how to satisfy her needs and desires without hurting anyone. We don’t know if she’ll be successful. I don’t know if I’ll be successful. I can try to enjoy myself, or I can just fall into the same pattern that so many of my family members have experienced and hurt myself and those close to me. It’s hard to stop since I’ve already had a taste, but I know that the alternative isn’t worth it.