Many films are classified as horror films but few films are actually horrific. Take what are considered modern day horror classics like The Babadook or It Follows. Those films are capable of delivering chills mainly because of the atmosphere they create in their respective depiction of events.
Raw is a film that pounces on the viewer because of the very nature of its horrific imagery. A young girl, a vegan her entire life, acquires a taste for meat after entering veterinary school. The storyline aptly presents the dilemma but leaves gives no clue as to the heinous and dreadful situations our heroine finds herself.
Even outside the character of Justine from French actress Garance Marillier, played with an amazing depth of insight for her ability to digest both raw meat and the role of an innocent cast into the fire, we witness cruelty inflicted upon other students like a hazing ritual in which everyone is covered in blood. Then there’s a horse that we observe being tranquilized and hoisted in a kind of equine stretcher that allows the animal to be prepared for an operation.
Likewise first time writer/director Julia Ducournau finds inspiration in the nausea and bloodlust of her lead character.
We see Justine nervously biting her hair as she tries to conform in her new academic surroundings. Justine has one scene where she pulls out a hairball lengthy enough that it could be a wig for Rapunzel. Another scene has Justine being given a Brazilian wax by her sister. When one patch of wax will not give way her sister tries to cut the wax stuck to Justine’s leg with a pair of scissors. Justine freaks out and jumps causing the scissors to cut off one of her sister’s fingers at the first joint, whereupon her sister faints. When sis regains consciousness she see Justine has all but finished eating the finger. This isn’t even the most severe scene in Raw.
The plot escalates with Justine and her sister causing car wrecks on country highways so they can feast on the victims. Yet that doesn’t give you a clue as to how the movie ends with a logical although bizarre denouncement.
Raw opened exclusively at the AMC Sundance last weekend, and expands to the AlamoDrafthouse Mason Road on March 31.
The Last Word proves to be a routine attempt at the familiar story of an old grouch who finds a touch of humility when she starts a relationship with two younger women. Shirley MacLaine can play sullen like a pro, we know that from Bernie.
Joining MacLaine are Amanda Seyfried as a newspaper reporter who’s assigned to write an obituary for MacLaine, who by the way isn’t dying but rather wants something nice said about her for once, and AnnJewel Lee Dixon as a foul mouthed little girl that MacLaine takes under her wing mainly because she wants her obituary to include the fact that she mentored an impoverished child.
Director Mark Pellington wavers between sentiment and light comedy. At one point MacLaine becomes a radio disc jockey just because she tells the station manager that she likes the Kinks but we only hear one Kinks song.
The Last Word opened last weekend in area theaters including the Landmark River Oaks.