TIFF 2016: ‘Raw’ Will Feed Your Hunger For Unsettling Body Horror

Who’s Behind It

Written and directed by Julia Ducournau, Raw marks her feature debut.

Who’s In It

Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf, and Rabah Nait Oufella.


Who’ll Love It

Self-hating vegetarians and fans of grotesque body horror who are willing to watch their protagonist suffer for 98 minutes—with the occasional moment of cannibalistic bliss.

What’s It About

16-year-old Justine (Garance Marillier) is a quiet, idealistic animal lover, who comes from a family of vegetarians. After arriving at veterinary college, she reluctantly participates in a series of initiation rituals. The low point comes when the older students—including her sister Alexia (Ella Rumpf)—pressure her to consume a raw rabbit liver. After some initial resistance, she finally gives in, setting in motion an extreme personal transformation. Following this regrettable snack, Justine wakes in the middle night covered in a skin-shredding rash and, before long, her condition deteriorates, culminating in a newfound appetite for human flesh—that proves too overpowering to resist.


Why You Should See It

Debut director Julia Ducournau effectively builds a sense of mystery—starting with a shocking opening, in which a motorist is abruptly forced off the road—and impending doom. She is especially adept at conveying Justine’s unsettled reactions to her own warped behaviour. (Her first moment of indulgence is memorably shocking, as is a bloody early morning discovery worthy of the horse’s head in The Godfather.) By initially presenting this character as a victim, Ducournau throws us off the scent of the real crisis, compounding our sense of helplessness as Justine’s condition unravels. While Raw would benefit from a more suspenseful approach and a greater sense of fun, it ultimately emerges as a unique character study with an abundance of shock and gore.

When You Can See It

Monday, September 12 at 11:59pm (Ryerson); Tuesday, September 13 at 10pm (Scotiabank 3); Saturday, September 17 at 12:30pm (TIFF Bell Lightbox 1). Tickets available here.

Check out a clip from the film below.