Although the film is rooted in arthouse film territory, and is particularly inspired by the films of David Cronenberg and David Lynch, Raw turns out to be its own wild animal.
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The curious thing is that, as with many big-budget horror flicks, this small French-Belgian movie feels too pleased with its own outrage; the grosser it grows, the less interesting it becomes. When the carnage was over, I went out and had a steak.
To say that Ducournau’s cinematic introduction is assured would be an understatement; it’s a shrewd, insightful, and surprisingly funny film that feels like the work of a more accomplished filmmaker who has refined their talents over the course of many films and years.
Raw is a deliciously fevered stew of nightmare fuel that hangs together with a breezily confident sense of superior craft.
Throughout Raw, Julia Ducournau exhibits a clinical pitilessness that’s reminiscent of the body-horror films of David Cronenberg.
It’s a wonderfully bizarre movie set in a world that at first glance might be our own, yet quickly slides off the rails into gonzo territory.
Raw is certainly nasty, but its gore is strategic and sparse. It is, however, a very stressful film to watch from beginning to end, even before the real feasting gets underway.
Not managing to be as icky as it wants to be, Raw makes one long for the days of exploitation films that compensate for the lack of technical craft with pure, idiotic chutzpah.
The young cast, from the newbie leads to an army of go-for-it extras, are terrific, and Marillier is something else – ferociously expressive in a performance that’s no-holds-barred on every front.
It’s rare to see such confidence in a first feature, yet Ducournau seems to know where she’s going at all times, keeping the narrative lean and mean while utilizing an array of stylistic techniques – slow-motion, sequence shots and tons of on-screen prosthetics – that never let up until the witty, and inevitably grisly, final scene.