There is a horror renaissance going on right now that everyone should be excited about. The genre has struggled to keep up with the horrors of the real world and has returned to top form; with many of the best films of the last few years coming from the auteurs of screams. One of these films, a film which made this critic’s top ten list last year, is Julia Ducournau’s Raw, which is finally getting a cinematic release after its infamous screenings at TIFF.
Raw tells the story of a young girl named Justine (Garance Marillier) who follows in her sister’s footsteps into veterinary school. During the obligatory hazing process, vegetarian Justine is forced to eat a raw rabbit liver, which suddenly awakens in her a taste for flesh – any flesh!
The rumour mills suggested that people fainted watching this film. While it is great publicity, this is not that kind of film. Raw, at its core, is a study of French bourgeoise family life and the relationship between two sisters, told in the vein of a horror movie. That being said, it still has the power to make viewers cringe, scream, hide and never ever eat chicken wings again! It’s just that these scenes are never the main focus of the film: the story being told is a family drama, set in the mouth of madness.
Ducournau’s direction could never be mistaken for anything but French: the acting, the set-up, the touches of humour, everything screams “French cinema”, but that is not a detriment to this film; in fact, this “Frenchness” helps make the horrors more horrific and the disgust more disgusting. And there is plenty to be disgusted by.
Let this be a warning to animal lovers, vegetarians and general anti-cannibals. You may love this movie, you may hate this movie, but you will think about Raw for days afterwards.
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Shahbaz Khayambashi: @Shakhayam