The film: 4 stars
French veterinary schools, eh? What are they like, with their hazing rituals, their after-hours orgies, and their doomy, Illuminati-esque lecture theatres? At least, according to Raw, that’s pretty much how things go at those places. And who am I to argue? It’s not like I’ve ever studied at one, not like protagonist Justine (Garance Marillier, just 18 when the film was made). You have to pity Justine, who has to navigate everything mentioned above while dealing with a strange hereditary secret, one that may relate to her family’s strict vegetarianism. The film became somewhat notorious after it played Cannes, though while it’s not for the faint-hearted, the gore and violence, when they come, are sparing, and overall it’s more a very strange and dark sort of coming-of-age drama than it is a splatter pic.
Audio and visuals: 4 stars
Presentation: 2 stars
Some points have been knocked off for the loud screeching sounds that play over the menus. Still, they might remind you not to leave your electronics running when they’re not in use.
Extras: 3 stars
The extensive set of extras includes a somewhat awkward commentary discussion between writer/director Julia Ducournau and critic Emma Westwood, and another commentary by critic Alexandra West, in which she discusses feminism and the French Extreme movement. Also present are several interviews: “The Girl Can’t Help It”, with lead actress Garance Marillier; “Making Ends Meat” with producer Jean des Forêts; and “In the Name of Raw”, with Ducournau. Also included is “A Family Affair”, billed as a “video essay by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas”, which features a short discussion of the film’s themes, while “Raw À Votre Goût” sees Ducournau again conversing with Emma Westwood. Elsewhere there are some “Quick Bites” in which Ducournau shares her thoughts on the horror genre generally and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre specifically; a panel discussion with other female horror directors in which Julia is fairly taciturn, the introduction from the film’s Australian premiere and a post-film Q&A, plus deleted scenes.
Overall: 3 stars
The film is worth a look, especially for those with a taste, or at least a tolerance, for gore, but the overall package isn’t as delicious as could it be.
RAW is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from Second Sight.