Part sister bonding, part coming-of-age story, part gross-out horror flick, Julia Ducornau’s debut feature is the terror discovery of 2016.
Every year, there’s one horror film discovery that leaves audiences buzzing, and RAW is that film for 2016. Julia Ducornau’s first film focuses on Julia, a shy young vegan heading to her first year of veterinarian school. Julia’s school just happens to love hazing (this is a veterinarian school?), and after an all-night party, Julia is forced to eat animal for the first time; specifically rabbit kidney. Like all good coming-of-age horror films, this sparks change in Julia. First it’s a terrible rash, and then later its… well, you’ll just have to see it to find out. But I can promise you it’s both weird and gross enough to make one squirm.
RAW has all the hallmarks of memorable horror. It recalls a number of genre favorites from CARRIE to RABID to SUSPIRIA, and it’s also the most touching sister relationship in a gore film since 2000’s GINGER SNAPS. Those who really delve deep into body horror will also be reminded of Marina De Van’s outstanding but little seen IN MY SKIN (aka DANS MA PEAU). Its effects were also done by Olivier Afonso who got started in the horror genre with the 2007 classic INSIDE. But RAW is writer/director’s Julia Ducornau’s vision, and it’s an accomplished and clever debut. Most of all, its assured as the narrative is straightforward but layered, the characters and dialogue are grounded and real, and the scares are gory and memorable. We love to celebrate these movies at Fantastic Fest, but RAW has a crossover potential that very few genre films can claim. (James Emanuel Shapiro)