It has been many years since we have been treated to a good cannibal film along the lines of Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox. Then along comes this French-Belgian film known as Raw. It made its debut at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival to critical acclaim and was building a huge following. Raw was being marketed as too sick and disgusting for most viewers. It finally got a VOD release on May 23, 2017. Was it worth the hype? Read on to see.
From Frakas Productions, Raw was written and directed by Julia Ducournau. This was her first feature length debut as a director. Starring Garrance Marillier (Junior 2011) as Justine, Ella Rumpf (Tiger Girl) as Alexia, Laurent Lucas (Calvaire) as Le père, Joana Preiss (Dans Paris) as Le mère, and Bouli Lanners (Rust and Bone) as Le routier.
Justine (Marillier), a vegetarian, follows in her sister Alexia’s (Rumpf) footsteps and joins a prestigious veterinary school. The first night there, she gets selected to join in the school’s festivities along with all the other freshman. What she does not realize is that this is a traditional hazing ritual for new students. Once the hazing begins, her and the other students are forced to eat raw animal meat, which awakens a craving, deep down inside, that she had never felt before.
I will tell you right off the bat that Raw was not what I would expected. The marketing and the trailer made it sound like a very violent and disgusting film that made audiences sick to their stomachs. In all honesty, I could see how it might make some people sick, but if you are anything like me, someone who has seen the above mentioned Cannibal Holocaust or its ilk, then this isn’t nearly as bad as it was promoted. There was only one scene that made me slightly disgusted.
This, however, is not what Raw is about. It is a story about a teenage girl who is becoming a woman in more ways than one. Not only is she on her own, away from her parents, but she also starts feeling urges that she cannot describe and isn’t sure how to control. While Justine struggles with her urges, Alexia has already embraced womanhood and is teaching Justine how to cope with the changes. The film is very well acted, especially from the two leads. They are very believable as two sisters that really care for each other.
Speaking of urges, this wouldn’t be a cannibal film without a little gore. The effects, done by Olivier Afonso, are really well done. Especially a scene involving a car accident. Although there isn’t an abundance of violence in the film, there should be enough to satisfy most gorehounds. During some of these gory moments, the camera will linger on the scene just long enough to make you feel quite uncomfortable.
With a runtime of an hour and 39 minutes, Raw moves at a steady pace, keeping interest on what was going to happen next without boredom. It’s mainly because of the performances and the story itself. There is only one little gripe I had with the film and that would be the very end scene, which I felt wasn’t necessary for the plot. Other than that, it was a well made film that kept me entertained.
I can’t wait to see what Julia Ducournau will do next. She has proven to me that she is a very competent writer and director. So, if you are looking for something a bit different than your typical horror film, then Raw will be the type of film you can sink your teeth into.