Directed by: Julia Ducournau
Cast: Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf, Rabah Nait Oufella
Julia Ducournau is a new player in a talent-rich game. And Raw is worthy of every bit of early praise it has already garnered. The film has been labeled one of the more disturbing films to see release in recent years, and there’s a degree of truth in that. A few issues of mundane living are transformed into revolting actions, and one wildly promising veterinarian in the making sees her entire world shattered while in pursuit of her education. Although the film moves a little slow, which could be pegged as a technical misfire in the minds of some, those are magnetic points of the pic that ultimately push this one into the ranks of the year’s early elite ranks.
Justine arrives at her new school to be welcomed by hazing arms. One of the scarce sketchy aspects of the film is the degree of hazing and the length of which it continues on. This is a school for future veterinarians, not Chico State, yet the “rookies” – or freshman – are subjected to absolutely tireless antics that often border on either dangerous or disgusting, or both. Justine, being a lifelong vegetarian is forced to eat meat during this process and the result of that one bite sends her promising career and auspicious future into an irreversible spiral.
Garance Marillier (Justine), Ella Rumpf (Alexia) and Rabah Nait Oufella (Adrien) make up the picture’s primary ensemble, and the three succeed in convincing, both in solo moments and when working directly alongside one another. Envisioning any one of these performers commanding an audience in a lead role is no stretch, especially given the fact that Marillier has now made that a reality, and neither Rumpf nor Oufella ever fall far behind the youngster. You simply cannot lose with this group of performers; whether they’re familiar or not, they absolutely slay in front of the camera.
I’m not wild about the pacing of the picture. I think it moves slow to a fault inside the first act, and ramps up the intensity a bit in the second act, though it’s in extremely measured doses. Eventually, Raw explodes in a mess or horrific sequences and gruesome, graphic violence as the film winds down. So, if you’re the type of viewer that really enjoys huge introductory hooks or a dearth of early freneticism, Raw might not win you over as a definitive year’s best. That said, even with a preference for shorter, more direct flicks, I can honestly say that Raw still succeeds greatly, delivering one beastly final shot that I don’t want to spoil, though it certainly helps to push this one deeper into the early race for best horror flick of 2017.
You’re going to hear a lot of hype come to life in the weeks to follow the release of Raw, I would implore you to steer clear of most of that, as best you can. Go into the movie blind, ready to welcome a picture into an open mind. It really is a perfectly grim picture with some disconcerting characters and if you don’t erect your expectations to unrealistic heights, you’re probably going to get a massive kick out of Raw… because, well, Raw embodies the impact of a massive kick!