Kyle Cubr of Cine-File Chicago reviews “Raw”

subtext-eye

In Julia Ducournau’s RAW, sixteen year old Justine (Garance Marillier) is the last of her vegetarian family of four to enroll in veterinarian school. This particular school has a rite of passage wherein the older students (including Justine’s sister, Alexia) haze the incoming students by dumping buckets of blood on them and forcing them to consume a raw rabbit kidney while taking a shot of liquor. This latter rite awakens a deep and primal hunger within Justine that not only acts as a catalyst in her coming of age but also triggers more predatory instincts. RAW is as visceral as they come. It takes bold chances with its script and subject matter that pay dividends to the viewer, but be warned this is not a film for those with a weak constitution. Much of the action centers on the sisterhood of Justine and Alexia. Their dynamic plays out as rebellious thanks to their implied strict upbringing, and the two share increasingly shocking moments as the film progresses. Ducournau draws influence from older body-focused horror films such as EYES WITHOUT A FACE as well as more modern stylized features including the works of Nicolas Winding Refn and Jeremy Saulnier. The driving, Europop score adds a frantic layer that attempts to simultaneously sharpen the horror and dull the viewer’s empathy. Haunting and unforgettable, RAW provokes strong reactions, mental, and for some, physical. Like a pack of lions on the prowl, it strikes at the most vulnerable of our senses.

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