Ou, baby I like it Raw
Review by Aaron Haughton
Julia Ducournau's directorial debut, Raw, a French-Belgium foreign language horror film, is a wild, grotesque animal.
If you haven't heard of the film, it may at least ring a bell due to the ruckus it caused at this year's Sundance Film Festival. As for those of you who are unfamiliar, feast your eyes on the trailer below:
While its it's easy to surmise that Raw is just another body horror, the heart that beats fiercely at the center of the film's core may genuinely surprise you more.
Essentially, Raw is a raucous coming-of-age tale veiled as a body horror. It's about being away from home for the first time and desperately trying to find your own way amidst all the confusion. What could be more universal than that?
Justine (played with delicious force by Garance Marillier) comes from a stringent vegetarian family and has never had the desire to eat meat. This is evident from a meatball found in her mashed potatoes in the film's opening scene. She's on her way to veterinarian school -- the same veterinarian school, mind you, that both her parents attended; her older sister, Alexia (played by Ella Rumpf), currently residing there as an upperclassman. Justine's exactly as we'd expect her to be at this phase in her young life: green, doe-eyed, and awkward; however, once we get to the veterinarian school, all of that quickly and organically changes.
Subjected to a series of bizarre hazing rituals, Justine gets her first taste of meat (more precisely, a rabbit kidney), which begins her transformation and opens the floodgates into a whole load of welcome, yet unsettling weirdness.
The most memorable instance of this presents itself in the form of a bikini waxing, which quickly spirals out into a finger licking fiasco. I won't go into further detail because this film is better experienced the less you know. But, let's just say, this scene is sure to make the cut as one of the best executed sequences of the year. In fact, Raw is one of the more impressive directorial debuts from the past few years (The Tribe and Witch being two that instantly spring to mind).
In that same vein, it's hard not to compare her to Jordan Peele, who floored audiences and critics alike with his debut, Get Out, for that very reason (I mean, they're both writer/directors, they both debuted their first film this year, and both films happen to fall in the horror wheelhouse). Peele finds his success in building his horror/thriller out of borrowed horror elements; whereas, everything about Raw feels wholly unique. Peele has obviously crafted a more easily digestible film, but that doesn't necessarily make it a better one by right. With that in mind, it's hard not to tip the scale in Ducournau's favor.
Definitely make an attempt to stomach this film whenever you get the chance. To those of you residing in more rural areas of the U.S., you'll likely have to wait until it's available digitally; it being foreign will undoubtedly limit it's outreach, unfortunately.
Rating: 4.5 splayed dog carcasses outta 5.