Sundance Review: ‘Raw’ is a delectable French cannibal thriller
(KUTV) I can’t imagine watching “Raw” outside of a packed theater. There’s something fascinating about hearing a room full of people grow increasingly uncomfortable as Justine (Garance Marillier), the film’s vegetarian protagonist, struggles with the newfound desire to literally devour her classmates.
Still, for all its shocks, “Raw” is more a psychological horror than it is a visceral one. There’s certainly a fair amount of gore, but not nearly as much as you’d expect and it certainly isn’t as graphic as it could have been. Not that the squeamish will escape without a shudder and a dry heave, but the narrative is more concerned with exploring Justine’s relationship with her family, particularly her sister, and her new friends as she leaves home to train as a veterinarian.
The film begins as a more traditional story of a young woman who goes away to school, is forced to endure a seemingly endless week of hazing rituals while trying to fit in with her peers despite being twice as intelligent as the rest of her class (or at least twice as dedicated to her studies). Justine isn’t helped along by her sister. In many ways things are only made more difficult because of her older sibling’s presence. In this respect, the story is very similar to what we saw in Sundance Film Festival alum “Goat” last year. It’s handled much better here.
The fact that the film takes its time before diving into the horror aspects of its story might dissuade horror traditionalists, but I happen to love films that don’t entirely rely on genre tropes and prescribed formulas.
“Raw” certainly isn’t for everyone, but if you’re a fan of smarter horror films a la David Cronenberg or vintage John Carpenter then this delectable film comes highly recommended.