Horror flicks can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Sometimes you get a straight forward slasher flick about an undead hockey player with mommy issues and sometimes you get a provocative coming-of-age story about a veterinary student who gets the taste for human flesh after a meat-centric hazing incident. All in French. Julia Ducournau’s ‘Raw’ is most certainly the latter of these two examples.
This is a tough film to write about as it is much smarter than I so all of the following words are sure to let it down but here we go. Hearing the premise of this film or the tales of audience members fainting and vomiting during festival screenings will all be misleading. This is a smart, sexy, provocative thriller that I personally have trouble classifying as horror but all of the internet movie databases disagree with me so why the fuck not…
Ducournau shows her confident voice straight away showing the audience that she is able to put realistic youths on screen who fill parties that feel like shit-shows I’ve been in my own life with a distinctive style and tone. This film is French as fuck it the best way as it doesn’t shy away from showing off the bodies of everyone involved but these shots and sequences never overstay their welcome or become gratuitous. All of this plays into the wonderful body horror that is inevitably brought on as Justine struggles with this unusual hunger that she struggles with.
‘Raw’ can be read in so many ways that are magnificent and I see evidence for all of them. You can read this as an allegory for struggling with your identity after primary school or perhaps it is a film about the dangers and immorality of living life as anything other than vegetarian. Maybe you leave the theater feeling that you just saw a film about struggling with your sexual identity and desires when previously unseen temptations are thrown your way. Any of these and more are valid interpretations and I can’t wait to revisit this to see what I find the next time.
With fantastic, realistic performances throughout and a distinctive visual tone all sprinkled on top of genuine thrills and a constant sense of dread, ‘Raw’ makes for a delicious way to spend 99 minutes of your time. Docournau has crafted together a provocative pseudo-horror film that will ask you to think more than any film about a young woman with cannibalistic tendencies should. See this as soon as you can but be warned, if you are queasy, you may be shaken by this. Don’t believe the fainting hype though. Fin.