There is a horror renaissance of late, with the genre moving away from the overly cynical, cheaply made, “found footage” style that dominated it for a decade, and more towards that which is truly well-made, and character-driven. Shrewd storytelling seems to be trumping cheap thrills and jump-out-of-your-seat shocks. Movies like THE CONJURING, THE BABADOOK, IT FOLLOWS, DON’T BREATHE and this year’s GET OUT have elevated the genre with true artistry in the past few years. No longer can those sloppy and silly movies like all those slapdash sequels to PARANORMAL ACTIVITY and THE PURGE be regarded as good enough for the genre. Not when you have people like Jordan Peele showing how horror should be done.
This horror renaissance is a worldwide phenomenon too, and France’s latest entry into the mix stands with the best of the past few years. Petit Films’ RAW opened across the USA this weekend, and while it may have an arthouse veneer to it because of its European heritage, it is a film that should have broad appeal in this country. It is both sophisticated in its droll, French sort of way, but it also serves up a generous helping of gore for those who like their film-going filled with overt bloodletting. One might have to go back to Eli Roth’s HOSTEL films to find a major release with as much eye-covering, cringe-inducing set-pieces. Still, if audiences can stomach some of the graphic gore here, they will ultimately experience one truly outstanding horror film.