This French-Belgian horror-drama is the story of a life-long vegetarian studying at what can only be described as The Stanley Kubrick School for Veterinary Science.
Raw caused a literal splash on the festival circuit when reports emerged of viewers passing out and/or throwing up. Who knows whether that’s true; such claims have long formed part of horror movie marketing strategies. Or maybe vomiting audience members were actually reacting to the adverts.
That said, these reports are infinitely more believable than those surrounding lame American efforts such as The Conjuring (there’s a difference between fainting and falling asleep) because Raw‘s scenes of cannibalism are stunningly realistic – both visually and in terms of the believable, complex characters, played by Garance Marillier and Ella Rumpf in the most sensitive portrayal of twisted sisters since Ginger Snaps.
There’s also purpose behind the film’s weird, shocking content. Filmmaker Julia Ducournau uses this taboo material to playfully and audaciously explore vegetarianism and feminism; our relationship with animals and the human body alike. Her woozy single-takes, blood-lighting and lingering gore maintain a consistently queasy tone.
Set in a brutalist, Cronenbergian institution, Raw is a fresh smorgasbord of chilling imagery, from tethered animals on treadmills to student hazing rituals so bloody that Carrie herself would require a trigger warning. As for the college raves – these make the parties from Animal House look like the parties from Friends.
With its biting social relevance and meaty subtext, Raw belongs on PETA’s list of movies to make you go meatless, alongside The Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Chicken Run… but probably closer to the former. Have a taste – just make sure you have some comforting videos on hand for when you need to decompress afterwards: