“Raw” is written and directed by Julia Ducournau and stars Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf, and Rabah Nait Oufella. The French film is about a vegetarian that undergoes some hazing at a Veterinarian College that leads her down a path towards cannibalism.
I was very excited to see this film, as this little horror flick became the major talk of the town at the Toronto Film Festival when the movie made people literally pass out from its intensity. The trailer peaked my interest as well, and coming in, my expectations were fairly high, and I was ready to be grossed out.
The performances, especially from Garance Marillier in the lead, are off the charts, as the characters are forced to do some truly brutal scenes, and they all handled the circumstances incredibly well. Marillier shines in every single scene, even when she plays a rather unlikable character, and her progression throughout the film was an absolute treat to watch.
Julia Ducournau does a tremendous job in her first feature film in both the writing and directing aspects, as this is one of the best-directed horror films in years. You can feel the amount of craft that is taken with each and every shot here, as they all add up to make both a hauntingly thrilling film, but also a movie that is in some ways romantic and a coming-of-age story, and Ducournau wonderfully balances all these elements to make a film that is much more than what could have been done if a weaker director was at the helm.
The score, done by Jim Williams, creates such a tense-filled vibe whenever it picks up that it nearly suffocates the scenes where it is prominent, but in the best way possible. Moments that were powerful enough already are made even more excruciating with the jolt of energy created by Williams, and adding this with tremendous editing, and an eerily still camera by Rupert Imens, and there were numerous scenes that “Raw” delivered that will be drilled in my mind for months and months.
I went to this film because of its reputation to literally cause people to pass out, and, while I didn’t faint, I could definitely see this movie causing a person to do so. This is an unsettling, completely unnerving, absolutely disgusting movie at times, but while also being beautiful and haunting in its own right. There is a substantial amount of blood and gore, but it is done with all the purpose in the world, and never reaches the point where it feels unnecessary. I cannot praise Ducournau enough for her handling of this articulate subject matter, as she turns what could have been torture porn into something that, while being horrific to watch, is both impactful and unforgettable for all the right reasons.
There are certainly a few highlight moments scattered throughout this fantastic film, most of which are too graphic even to get into here. This is a horror film in the sense of how horrifically brutal it is to watch, but it’s not all that scary, instead being more of a drama with a horror-style subject matter, and this move worked for the best overall. The conclusion of this movie was something that I absolutely loved, as it did exactly what I wanted it to, and tied up really any loose ends that I could have had beforehand.
The set-up to the plot is a tad long, as it takes a little while to really get into the meat of the movie, literally. There are also a couple of small moments that felt a little staged, as some of the students and a specific professor felt as if they were simply pieces of the film instead of legitimate characters.
This is not a negative from my standpoint, but, as more of a warning to those who aren’t sure if they want to see this movie, this is an outstandingly graphic film. I probably have driven that point home, but I really want to advise you to proceed with caution if you are a bit squeamish with gory films, as this was one of the hardest movies to sit through I have ever seen. It is all with purpose, and the gore creates some masterful scenes, but it is certainly not for everyone.
“Raw” is a powerhouse directorial debut from Julia Ducournau and manages to overcome the traditional flaws that horror films face with excellent storytelling, beautifully shot and edited moments of tension that are helped with a hair-raising score, and strong performances throughout its’ cast, especially from Garance Marillier in the lead. This is right up there with the best films of the year so far, and “Raw”, while being absolutely unbearable to watch in moments, is also just as beautiful as it is gruesome, and I cannot recommend it enough to those who have a strong enough stomach for it.
Do you want to see “Raw”? Comment below with your thoughts.
Look, I went the whole review without saying it, but I have to make the pun at least once. This movie was “Raw”. Have a good day, everyone.