‘Raw’ Is Hard to Stomach

Garance Marillier in RAW. Via Focus World

This unspeakable endurance test by no-talent, first-time feature-film director Julia Ducournau is a French-Belgian co-production about (get a grip) a vegetarian who enrolls in a veterinarian school where she gets her first taste of meat and likes it so much she starts feasting on the blood and flesh of animals and other living people. Word to the wise: Start saving the vomit bags from your airplane flights. With movies like this, you’re gonna need them.

(0/4 stars)

Writen and Directed by: Julia Ducournau

Starring: Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf and Rabah Nait Oufella

Running time: 90 mins.


Justine (Garance Marillier) has been raised on nothing stronger than broccoli. Now she finds herself subjected to such monstrous punishments that she goes insane. Her aggressive, older sister Alexia (Ella Rumpf) is already a student and it soon becomes obvious that she belongs in an asylum, too. Milky white and desperately in need of some protein, Justine is initially horrified by the student body’s obsession with raping, pillaging, and mutilating animals as part of the school’s cruel undergraduate hazing rituals. They also eat meat, forcing her to devour such delicacies as raw rabbit livers. Yum. How much she enjoys the taste is so immediate that when sister Alexia loses a finger during an initiation rite, Justine pops the severed digit in her mouth and gnaws it to the bone. An angry rash grows on her body like a lichen on a log. Craving blood, she gives into violent outbursts to feed her primal lusts. This is nothing compared to what Justine finds back at home, when she discovers that bloodlust runs in the family. What happens at the dinner table where even her parents reveal bruises, scars and teeth marks on their bodies from years of self-mutilation must be seen to be believed. That is not a recommendation.


A sick, twisted tribute to brutality and cannibalism, Raw might appeal to filmgoers who delight in disgust and depravity, but the grim fate of a poor, tortured horse trapped in the humiliating hazing process is unacceptable no matter who you are. Falsely passing off this trash as art (it was shown in the Midnight Madness section at the recent Toronto International Film Festival) is no excuse. It finally ends without any explanation for Justine’s screwball behavior. If you pay real money to suffer through Raw, you’ll have a hard time explaining your own.

  ‘Raw’ Is Hard to Stomach