Just because a metaphor is fairly obvious, that doesn’t mean it can’t be potent. Writer/director Julia Ducornau opens with young Justine (Garance Marillier) getting dropped off for her first year of veterinary school, joining her older sister Alex (Ella Rumpf). But through the hazing of first-year students, Justine discovers that she might not be quite as committed a vegetarian as her parents—and that she might have a taste for meat beyond that of animals. The more extreme gory elements have been the focus of media attention, and Ducornau certainly isn’t timid about leaning into her provocative premise. But along the way, she taps into a genuinely intriguing exploration of a girl raised in an environment of militant abstinence who, once on her own, finds herself ill-equipped to control her appetites; Marillier proves wonderfully adept at both wide-eyed innocence and girl-gone-wild sensuality. Raw might not quite stick the landing of other horror films with a message, ending with a moment that’s not the sucker-punch Ducornau seems to think it is. It’s satisfying enough that she finds a darkly effective way to put the carne in carnal desire.
Director: Julia Ducournau
Producer: Jean des Forêts
Cast: Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf, Rabah Oufella, Laurent Lucas, Joana Preiss, Bouli Lanners and Marion Vernoux