Film Review: Raw

Intense, brutal, and darkly humorous, Julia Ducournau’s Raw will enthrall, entertain and horrify viewers.

Justine is a vegetarian student who is starting a course at veterinary college. As part of a hazing ritual for new recruits, she is forced to eat meat. This awakens a hitherto unexplored desire for flesh…

Written and directed by Julia Ducournau, Raw certainly is a memorable watch. The film combines aspects of a body horror with some black comedy. Ducournau’s film functions as a coming of age tale, albeit an abject and shocking one.

Raw‘s premise is an intriguing one. It is unclear how the film play out, given the reveal fairly early on. There are several directions that the film could have taken, and it plumps for a black fairy tale. Ducournau’s film unfolds in an engaging way. The coming of age story will make viewers empathise with Justine. The route the narrative takes will horrify, and darkly amuse.

Ducournau’s depicts her characters in a convincing manner. Justine is a believable protagonist, and her relationship with her sister Alexia is portrayed in a natural manner. The film eschews any kind of Hollywood gloss; even the non-violent scenes offer a realistic bluntness. Garance Marillier is most believable as Justine. She has good chemistry with both Ella Rumpf and Rabah Nait Oufella.

Raw is brutal in its depictions; the film is certainly not for the faint of heart. The film’s violent scenes are visceral, and there is a level of squeamishness that exists throughout. There are moments of gore in the film which shock. Yet it is sometimes the aftermath which brims with revulsion. Ducournau places viewers in the heart of action, and is unrelenting in depicting close-up goriness. The depictions are so brutal (and thusly so memorable) because it all looks so realistic. Make up and special effects in the film are excellent. As a result, the film is hard to watch at times.

Raw is a most impressive directorial debut from Julia Ducournau. A very worthy addition to the body horror sub-genre.