Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Friday, July 20, 2018

"Raw" is untamed and uncut

I have never been to a movie where barf bags have been supplied, but that all changed with “Raw.” This French-Belgian horror film is about an innocent girl trying to adjust to the tumultuous life of veterinarian school. Directed by French director Julia Ducournau, it has won many awards in film festivals throughout Europe.

The film reels you in from the very start with someone running onto the street causing the incoming car to swerve into a tree. The girl Justine, played by Garance Marillier, discovers that all social life at this veterinarian school is controlled by the upperclassmen who demand brutal hazing rituals. It is important to understand that Justine is a vegetarian who has never even touched meat her entire life. The upperclassmen demand, as part of the hazing that she eat a rabbit kidney. Her own sister who also attends the school, Alexia (Ella Rumpf), peer pressures her into eating it for her own selfish reasons. Alexia just wants to fit in with the other upperclassmen. Things begin to change for Justine after that. Strange rashes that won’t go away and even stranger desires for meat that she’s never experienced. She also develops an odd affinity towards her gay roommate Adrien (Rabah Naït Oufella). All this occurs while she continues to excel at school and becomes known as the class brainiac.Things continue to take and even darker and more disgusting turn later when she discovers the full nature of her meat desires and the truth behind why she is vegetarian. The audience learns the brutal truth that it is not just raw meat that she desires, but human flesh.

I hesitate to even call “Raw” a horror film because of the stigma that will give it. Its plot far exceeds that of most in the horror category, which isn’t, quite honestly, a very difficult thing to accomplish. However, it is so much more than your average cannibal horror movie. It focuses on numerous conflicts such as Justine trying to fit in, her relationship with her sister and how she fights the growing temptation inside her for meat. It has a very refreshing and albeit grotesque spin on what a good horror movie entails. It’s thrilling and captivating from start to finish.

There isn’t a whole lot left to the imagination. When it was shown at the Cannes and other Film Festivals some in the audience had to leave midway through and others did throw up, hence the bags. So, I cannot emphasize enough that if blood or body parts disgust you in any way this may not be the movie for you. However, if you’re a seasoned horror movie veteran and are used to the blood and gore of slasher and cannibal films then “Raw” will not have as much sticker shock.

The visuals in the movie are not all that inspiring but that in no way takes away from it. It is not about the visuals, it is about the story. The soundtrack fits the film nicely by adding to the suspense of it. That all being said, if you are looking for a movie that beautifully weaves typical issues such popularity, relationships, temptations and family with issues with that of an ever-growing desire for raw meat then “Raw” is the sick masterpiece for you. Just don’t eat anything beforehand.

Grade: A

Raw opens in select theaters today, March 24. 

jreilly@theeagleonline.com


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