Take A Sick Bag If You're Going To Watch 'Raw'...
I’d never felt pre-emptively nauseous about going to the cinema until I was invited to the screening of French director Julia Ducournau’s latest film, Raw.
The movie – which sees a strictly vegetarian student’s baptism of fire into university life when she finds herself pining for human flesh during freshers’ week – left some audience members requiring “ambulance intervention” after its premiere at Toronto Film Festival.
I left the popcorn behind and apologised to my mate that I’d dragged along with me in advance. Even the security guard eyed us nervously as walked in, promising that there were sick bags at the end of each aisle. It all seemed a little bit melodramatic, I’d survived Human Centipede and Two Girls One Cup in my lifetime, surely it couldn’t be that bad…
Sure enough, there’s more flesh-eating than a heavy night at Nandos and Justine’s story may not be for the faint-hearted. But this feisty female-led horror/comedy is much, much more than a gore fest.
Her struggles as a brainy outsider, constantly in the shadow of her cool, second-year sister are relatable to anyone who’s been an uncertain newbie. But it’s when she’s forced to eat a rabbit kidney as part of a hazing exercise, which in turn ignites her innate cannibalistic desires for human flesh, that the film really takes flight.
Justine’s change in diet is accompanied (and becomes almost metaphorical) for her newfound understanding of her developing body and heightened sense of sexuality. She becomes rampant in her hunt for flesh, it consumes her, and her character’s development brutally rides the waves of the initiation of girlhood to womanhood in a sea of blood, that’ll leave you truly raw by the end of it.
It’ll leave you squirming, but as much in revisiting the memories of awkward adolescence as watching a young woman munch on her classmates.