You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myAJC.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myAJC.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myAJC.com.

breaking news

Flooding blocks lanes on Ga. 400

‘Raw’ is a fiercely original horror film


The first-year veterinary students assemble in their crisp white coats for a group photo, smiling sweetly before being drenched in a cascades of blood of mysterious provenance. Afterward, smeared and crusted with the red stuff, they line up to take their communion: a raw rabbit kidney. One girl protests: She’s from a vegetarian family of vets and has never eaten meat. It’s not until her wild-eyed older sister intervenes, pressuring her to fit in with the group, that she swallows the organ. Welcome to vet school, kids, better get used to the gore and guts. Some will take to it with more zeal than others.

This is the backdrop of “Raw,” the debut feature film from French writer/director Julia Ducournau, who spins one of the most inspired and fiercely original horror yarns seen in years. With a culture of extreme university hazing as a backdrop, Ducournau uses cannibalism as a means of exploring female sexuality, hunger and coming of age. For the naive Justine (Garance Marillier), her blossoming is far more extreme than expected. It’s not pretty or ladylike, but it is who she is.

The rabbit kidney causes Justine a severe allergic reaction, which awakens a tremendous hunger for the flesh forbidden by her upbringing. At first, it’s for gas station kebabs, purloined burger patties and raw chicken breasts, and then for something far more taboo.

The word “cannibalism” tends to eclipse everything else. But in “Raw,” it’s the wild hazing that initially shocks, as second year students drag rookies out of their beds and into underground tunnels for booze and sex-soaked bacchanals. By the time Justine nibbles delicately on a severed finger, or takes a tentative lick of a head wound, it’s almost cute.

Her overbearing live-wire of an older sister, Alexia (Ella Rumpf), eggs Justine on to fit in with the insane culture of this place — the drinking, the drugs, the sex games, the food. Alexia wants Justine to be like her, but they become locked in a codependent, destructive rivalry, fighting over the attention of Justine’s gay roommate, Adrien (Rabah Nait Oufella).

Ducournau’s film is horrific, a weird and riotous iteration, shirking most generic conventions. Consumption of human flesh is one of the most aberrant, deplorable and unimaginable acts, and in embracing that taboo subject, Ducournau cleverly achieves a feminist interpretation of cannibalism. It becomes a symbol of independence and freedom, as well as of erotic pleasures of the flesh inextricably intertwined with sex and puberty.

Ducournau has a bold, striking visual style. Stark white or red lighting beats down on the feral, writhing bodies of the students at work or at play. Her camera winds its way underneath Justine’s white sheets, as she thrashes, tormented by her transformation. A dramatic, operatic score by Jim Williams references retro 1970s horror classics.

Always, we are drawn to Justine’s eyes, as she consumes the world around her, as both her old and new self. Ducournau’s film is at once intellectual and visceral — it is as motivated from the brain as it is from the body. With this unusual device of cannibalism, Ducournau vividly illustrates a uniquely feminine body horror, both emotional and corporeal, rendered in vast, bold, dripping red strokes.

MOVIE REVIEW

“Raw”

Grade: A

Starring Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf and Rabah Nait Oufella. Directed by Julia Ducournau.

Rated R for aberrant behavior, bloody and grisly images, strong sexuality, nudity, language and drug use/partying. Check listings for theaters. 1 hour, 39 minutes.

Bottom line: Uses cannibalism to explore female sexuality, hunger and coming of age



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Living

'Everything, Everything' proves Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson's star power
'Everything, Everything' proves Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson's star power

Their names turn heads. Their faces make hearts flutter. But with this weekend's $12-million opening for "Everything Everything," Amandla Stenberg and Nick Robinson are finally breaking out from the acting crowd. Granted, she's just 18 and he's 22, but the duo have played second fiddle, some might say, for far too long.  Stenberg's Rue...
It all started with a ‘like’ on Instagram for this Atlanta couple
It all started with a ‘like’ on Instagram for this Atlanta couple

Scott and Laura Ulrich’s love story is beautiful, but a little unusual. Their journey started with a simple “like” on Instagram, and now the happy couple is married and enjoying life together in Atlanta. This coffee-brewing, city-living, cat-loving couple proves that anything can happen if you meet the right person, and you&rsquo...
Watch Samuel L. Jackson’s powerful monologue
Watch Samuel L. Jackson’s powerful monologue

By Ryon Horne Atlanta super-director Kenny Leon invited his close friend Samuel L. Jackson to True Colors Theatre’s annual charity event over the weekend – then joined him on stage. They along with other veteran actors Crystal Fox, Eugene Lee and Glynn Turman and read scenes from August Wilson’s “The Piano Lesson.&rdquo...
Your guide to the Fabulous Fox Theatre
Your guide to the Fabulous Fox Theatre

As one of the most cherished city landmarks, The Fox Theatre is more than just a building, it's an experience. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the exquisite architecture and stunning decor inside The Fox transports guests to the temples of Ancient Egypt, palaces of the Far East and into elaborate Arabian mosques. Discover the...
Smash hit ‘Mama Mia’ film sequel in works; original cast set to return
Smash hit ‘Mama Mia’ film sequel in works; original cast set to return

  A sequel to the 2008 box office smash “Mama Mia” is in the works with most of the original cast members, including Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried, Colin Firth and Pierce Brosnan, expected to return, according to media reports. “Mama Mia: Here We Go Again” is shaping up as both a prequel and a sequel and will be directed...
More Stories