#31in31 2017 – “Raw”/”Grave”

“Little lady’s hungry. Don’t they feed you down there?”

Story: Sweet virginal (literally) Justine is about to start Vet school! Hooray for her! But the first week hazing rituals are a bit too much for her sensibilities, especially when she’s asked to eat raw rabbit kidney. But before long she’s eating raw chicken right out of the package…wanna bet that chicken won’t sate her for long?

Scares: Lots of creepy, and a few “what next?” kinda chills.  This is a low-n-slow horror that unfolds as more of a twisted coming-of-age tale than a full-speed horrorfest.

Splat factor: Yes and no.  Yes, there’s blood and eating…stuff.  No, there’s not a whole lot of it, and the movie doesn’t focus in on it.

Closing scene “shocker”?:  Yep.  And I’m not mad because it’s a humdinger that truly works for this story.

Remake, Sequel or OG (Original Ghoul)?:  Truly original.

Trick or Treat?: I decided to watch this more because I’d heard it was intriguing and unique, rather than me picking it because it sounded cool.  But I’m glad I gave it a look; Raw is a creepy “horror indie” that delivers a pretty cool freak out.

Why do I like Raw and dislike It Follows?  Because the actors in Raw are all in.  Sure, Justine seems to sleepwalk through much of her story, but her transformation from innocent waif to…well, let’s say woman? Is exhausting, I’d imagine. Actress Garance Marillier is able to portray a whole lot of undercurrent in her shocked-into-blankness facade.  And the other characters around Justine are vibrant, devil-may-care college students, which not only balances out Justine’s flat affect, but draws attention to the fact that something is definitely wrong with her. Her transformation is fascinating and terrifying, as if I was going through it right alongside her.

As Justine and Alexia, there’s a believable sisterly chemistry between Marillier and Ella Rumpf.  They love each other, they’re jealous of each other, and when the chips are down they’re there for each other.  Without these performances Raw might have become just another “who’s she gonna bite?” movie.  But instead director Julia Ducournau crafted a tale that merges family, coming-of-age, and horror stories into a compelling whole.

Sure yeah, as a foreign indie, there are moments where I just wanted things to Get On Already.  But this story spools out bit by bit, leading to an ending that…well, spoilers darling. Let’s just say it was definitely worth the ride. Get out your glasses for the subtitles, and maybe have some pizza nearby.  Veggie or meat-lovers is wholly up to you.

Score: 4 out of 5 pumpkins.

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