Beyond Fest Review: ‘Raw’ Will Make You Squirm

Raw is the hazing veterinary school cannibal sister movie of the year. I’m not going to go so far as to say it’s the best hazing veterinary school cannibal sister movie ever made, but I think it’s definitely in the top five.

Justine (Garance Marillier) goes to veterinary school with her older sister Alexia (Ella Rumpf). The upperclassmen haze the freshmen, and forcing them to eat raw animal innards conflicts with Justine’s vegetarian lifestyle. Soon enough, she’s eating raw meat out of the fridge and not long after, she nibbles on Alexia’s severed finger. Serious question: is it incest on top of cannibalism to eat your own sibling’s flesh?

I’ve seen much more violence in a single movie than Raw offers, but the nature of biting and eating flesh gives Raw a unique foothold in making us squirm. Actually, the hardest scene to watch is Alexia giving Justine a Brazilian wax, with closeups of yanking the wax off Justine’s pubes.

Raw

Garance Marillier in Raw

Raw takes the drama of discovering cannibal predilections seriously, although it’s hard to like either sister. They’re both awful people before they start dabbling in cannibalism. Alexia mistakes demanding peer pressure for rebellion, and Justine is whiny and needy. Marillier and Rumpf are great though in unapologetic performances.

I’ve got to question their choice of veterinary schools. Why would you even go to a medical school with hazing? There are other perfectly good straight veterinary schools out there. What, was cannibalism not enough? The movie needed more schtick?

There’s a bit of body horror that’s nice and squirmy too, like rashes, peeling skin and coughing up hair. The moment designed to get you really do get you.

Raw makes good use of the widescreen frame too, sometimes framing important information on opposite ends, or sometimes going Mr. Robot with empty space.

For the niche audience that’s going to be seeking out a cannibalism movie, a subset of even the horror audience, Raw delivers a well-made film with respectable performance. It’s not an exploitation movie. It’s a drama. It may not convert anyone who already thought Hannibal was too much, but it’s pretty good.

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