Sundance Journal: ‘Raw’

'Raw'

Movie Rating:

4

Trailers and ads have made ‘Raw’ look like a pure gross-out fest that relies on shock value for shares, entertainment or memorability, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth with this French/Belgian film.

Leaving home and going to college brings a non-stop series of new experiences for Justine (Garance Marillier). Parties, alcohol, drugs, sex and sleepless nights are expected – but she’s also about to experience one thing that she wasn’t expecting.

Get ready to lose your appetite.

Justine’s parents raised her and her older sister, who also attends the same veterinary college, to never eat meat. As a family of animal lovers who’ve all entered the same field, they think it’s not right. This particular vet school requires students to go through a rigorous frat- and sorority-style rite of passage hazing. One of the wild steps to initiation involves eating a raw animal organ. Reluctant to do so, Justine knows that she’ll never make it if she doesn’t eat the disgusting pink thing, so she does it. She can live with the consequences of breaking the family’s one cardinal rule. However, she can’t foresee the consequences that it will have on her body.

Like a human-turned-vampire, Justine has just tasted flesh for the first time and now craves more. Initially, she starts eating the standard meats that you’d find in cafeterias and fast food restaurants: ground beef patties and sliced pork sandwiches. But her insatiable cravings don’t stop there. Before long, unable to control the forbidden urge, she devours raw chicken. Any visible meat becomes irresistible, leading to an addiction that she never saw coming: human flesh.

While this premise, indeed, sounds like a horror genre gimmick, ‘Raw’ climbs above the cheap thrills. It’s doesn’t take the low-hanging fruit or settle for the simple disgusting things. Don’t get me wrong, it will gross you out, make you wince and likely avert your eyes a few times, but there’s much more to the film that, if revealed, would spoil some of the fun.

I haven’t giggled and squirmed my way through a solid horror movie in some time, but the experience of seeing ‘Raw’ left me so satisfied that I’m unlikely to forget it.

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