It’s a fascinating time for women in horror, with Elle, Raw and Prevenge all making an impact in the last couple of months alone, depending on where you live. If you’re on the other side of the ocean then two of those have already come out, with the third on the way next month. In the States, it’s flipped.
French writer-director Julia Ducournau’s unmissable debut feature, the cannibal shocker/female coming of age story Raw, has already hit US theaters but UK fans won’t get a chance to see it until April. Regardless, it’s worth discussing. Over and over and over again.
I caught a preview screening but will no doubt watch it again when it drops over here next month. It’s that bloody good (pun intended). Forget what you’ve heard about mass faintings at TIFF and that bikini waxing scene. All horror fans need to see this movie. Immediately, if not sooner.
Hell, all humans need to see this movie (and maybe some horses and cows too).
Set in the most outrageously French, luridly anarchic veterinary college imaginable, Raw sees timid freshman Justine (newcomer Garance Marillier,, in a revelatory, career-establishing performance) undergoing a transformation following a hazing ritual that finds her forced to turn her back on her strict vegeterian beliefs.
After imbibing a raw rabbit kidney, Justine finds her blood-lust awakened, a change that coincides with her burgeoning sexuality. We watch as she drools over her gay roommate just as hungrily as she does a burger, stolen from the school cafeteria.
Later, after succumbing to the very literal pleasures of the flesh, Justine chomps on a human finger, thereby committing herself to a presumed lifetime of cannibalism. It’s a ballsy, take-notice move that establishes Raw as not just another female-fronted horror movie (as if there could ever be enough).
Although the flick shares DNA with Ginger Snaps and Jim Mickle’s sublime We Are What We Are, there’s a punk rock spirit to it, along with a proudly feminist slant that marks the movie out as something very special indeed. That and the gore is top notch, in-your-face, vomit-inducingly gross.
Horror fans, in particular, should find their stomachs turned and their brains tickled almost simultaneously, as Justine transforms before our eyes. One particularly memorable sequence sees her seducing herself in the mirror. Later, she ravenously attacks a paramour during a wild sex scene.
It’s heartening to see a movie this challenging getting a release on both sides of the ocean, whether limited or not. Raw is the kind of special entity that only comes along every once in a while, but it’s a film we need to embrace and support to ensure more follow in its wake.
If you go for no other reason than to prove you can stomach it, then so be it. Get in there, don’t be sick and then brag to everyone you know so they follow suit.
Raw is in US theatres now and hits the UK on April 7, 2017