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Review: Raw

Score: B+

Director: Julia Ducournaú

Cast: Garance Marinier, Ella Rumpf, Rabah Oufella

Running Time: 99 Minutes

Rated: R

Already preceded in legend by rumors that people fled the theater at its earliest screenings, Raw has a lot to live up to. And in a rare occurrence, lives up to that hype. It's terrifying and unsettling, but not always in the way you might think.

Garance Marillier plays Justine, a freshman at a prestigious French veterinary school that her parents attended and where her sister Alexis (Ella Rumpf) is an upperclassman. She's shy, a vegetarian and a virgin, none of which gels with her rowdy classmates. After a sadistic hazing ritual, in which the whole rookie class is doused in animal blood and forced to eat raw meat, Justine gets increasingly sick. The school nurse tells her it's just food poisoning, but her stomach pain and rashes only get worse. She begins to crave animal meat, and then human flesh.

To be fair: Raw is pretty damn gross. There will be more than one scene where you'll want to look away. But what keeps it so watchable – aside from Marillier's fearless performance – is its brutal subtext. It's a pretty scathing indictment of peer pressure, especially on young women. And not just in forcing a committed vegetarian to eat meat, but in an uncomfortable push for her to become more sexual. It's no surprise a pushy guy gets his lip bitten off for trying to go too far during a paint-covered 7 Minutes in Heaven session.

Raw has a lot more on its mind than just the shocking sight of a beautiful young woman chowing down on human body parts. Like the best horror movies, that social critique will make it last a lot longer than the cheap scares that you can find every other week. This is another bold horror movie that deserves to find a wider audience. I can only imagine how it will play in a theater full of people.

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About Kip Mooney

Kip Mooney
Like many film critics born during and after the 1980s, my hero is Roger Ebert. The man was already the best critic in the nation when he won the Pulitzer in 1975, but his indomitable spirit during and after his recent battle with cancer keeps me coming back to read not only his reviews but his insightful commentary on the everyday. But enough about a guy you know a lot about. I knew I was going to be a film critic—some would say a snob—in middle school, when I had to voraciously defend my position that The Royal Tenenbaums was only a million times better than Adam Sandler’s remake of Mr. Deeds. From then on, I would seek out Wes Anderson’s films and avoid Sandler’s like the plague. Still, I like to think of myself as a populist, and I’ll be just as likely to see the next superhero movie as the next Sundance sensation. The thing I most deplore in a movie is laziness. I’d much rather see movies with big ambitions try and fail than movies with no ambitions succeed at simply existing. I’m also a big advocate of fun-bad movies like The Room and most of Nicolas Cage’s work. In the past, I’ve written for The Dallas Morning News and the North Texas Daily, which I edited for a semester. I also contributed to Dallas-based Pegasus News, which in the circle of life, is now part of The Dallas Morning News, where I got my big break in 2007. Eventually, I’d love to write and talk about film full-time, but until that’s a viable career option, I work as an auditor for Wells Fargo. I hope to one day meet my hero, go to the Toronto International Film Festival, and compete on Jeopardy. Until then, I’m excited to share my love of film with you.

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