Synopsis: When a young vegetarian undergoes a carnivorous hazing ritual at vet school, an unbidden taste for meat begins to grow in her.
Writer and Director Julia Docournau’s “Raw”, stars Garance Marillier, who plays “Justine”, a young, medical prodigy who is set to join her older sister “Alexia”, played by Ella Rumpf at Veterinarian School. Justine, is only 16 and has lived somewhat of a sheltered life, highlighted by her parents strong vegetarian beliefs. Her outstanding academics have her arrival at school in the fall, a much anticipated event for faculty and staff.
Upon arriving at school, Justine soon learns that college life is not exactly what she had expected. She is quickly exposed to a lifestyle, and behavior that she has not experienced before. Sex, drugs, and drinking run far too rampant, and she has a deer-in-headlights reaction to all that surrounds her. Her gay, male roommate “Adrien”, played by Rabah Nait Oufella, provides little solace in Justine’s new universe. Older sister Alexia, who probably means well in her own mind, provides a bad influence as Justine attempts to remain untainted. Alexa and Justine are somewhat polar opposites, and Justine tries to rebel against the peer pressure and anxiety being thrust upon her at school.
During one freshman hazing event, Justine and her classmates are splattered with blood, and forced to line up and eat rabbit kidneys. Justine refuses, but is forced to eat a small dose of mammal organs by none other than big sis, Alexa. After consuming flesh for the first time, Justine develops a violent rash, as well as a carnivorous instinct that she’s never felt before. Justine’s cravings now grow boundless, and include feasting on the likes of raw chickens and even her own flesh during her first sexual experience. It is now just a matter of time until she fails to resist the temptation of eating another humans embodiment. It is at this point that she realizes that herself and her sister Alexa, have more in common than she once thought.
“Raw” has the rare ability of making me shake my head in disgust, almost turn off the movie, and then five minutes later, leave me really glad that I kept watching. It is beautifully crafted and shot, with amazing performances by the two female leads and supporting cast. “Raw” takes the cliche and spins it on it’s head. It shows the typical coming of age story of a girl experiencing sex, drugs and life’s underbelly. It then contorts that familiar tune by throwing in cannibalistic themes to display life’s urges, and taboo’s as we end adolescence and begin adulthood. “Raw” also adds in the occasional, if not intentional comic relief from time to time. I’ll just ask you to really read the subtitles well during the French rap song that plays while Justine dances in the mirror during the 2nd act. They lyrics are priceless.
American audiences, to the best of my knowledge are only seeing “Raw” for the first time in 2017. Be that as it may, I believe it was actually a 2016 release. Either way, I’m having a tough time thinking of a better horror movie that I have seen in the last two years combined. I cannot recommend this film for everyone as it is very bizarre and off the wall. I am on the other hand confident that true horror fans will find this tale of coming of age cannibalism quite delicious indeed.
I rate “Raw” 9 out of 10 stars.