Raw (2017)

Who’d have thunk it? A cannibal film that is weirdly relatable…

When a young vegetarian, Justine, (Garance Marillier) undergoes a carnivorous hazing ritual, an unbidden taste for meat begins to grow in her.

Raw is an absolute gem and an extremely impressive feature film debut from Julia Ducournau. With such a taboo theme, being cannibalism, one would earmark this film to be another fiercely sick entry into the splatter horror subgenre, but surprisingly it is the narrative that is boldly ravenous. The title itself defines the unnerving tale of grisly self discovery that not only Justine goes through, but is a personal journey we all go through in life. Raw is a beautiful coming of age tale, unlike any other before. It is the story of a young woman figuring out herself and the bond she has with her sister, Alexia (Ella Rumpf).

Raw has the perfect balance of body horror and pitch black humour. The media’s hype of how graphic the film is may be somewhat exaggerated, yes there are moments of stomach churning disgust, but it is handled with such elegance and class, that cannibalism suddenly turns into a delicious nightmare.

The chemistry between Marillier and Rumpf is exceptional. Both girl’s performances are absolutely captivating, Rumpf being particularly spectacular. The film refreshingly doesn’t fall into any trappings of caricature nor does it ever start to feel overblown.

Raw is an extreme yet intimate tale. It is a tender subtle film about family and growth, yet disguised as a stylish body horror. Raw is extremely moving and weirdly relatable. Raw will have you squirming in your seat, giggling quietly, gasping and also questioning are all French veterinary schools this intense?

9.0 / 10

“I’m sure you will find a solution, honey”

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The Neon Demon (2016)

The modelling world will chew you up and spit you right out…

When aspiring model Jesse moves to Los Angeles, her youth and vitality are devoured by a group of beauty obsessed women who will take any means necessary to get what she has.

It seems The Neon Demon is one of those films that demands a reaction, arguments can be made against the pros and cons of this slick, cold film but ultimately your left with either loving or hating it. I went in with the expectation that it was going to be dark, campy and weird, which it was in way, but basically it was just super boring.

Nicholas Winding Refn suspends narrative for eye popping cinematography. Seductively stylish in fluoro reds and blues, The Neon Demon takes a satiric look into the ugly world of supermodels and high end fashion shoots but results in a contrived underdeveloped plot with thinly written characters.

The movie drips in symbolism, most of its narrative really forcing you to read between the lines as it plays out like a hallucinatory dream / nightmare over the Los Angeles fashion world. Unfortunately, style over substance doesn’t win here, instead I am left burrowing my brow at long scenes of nothingness and frustrating dialogue – “I use to yell at the moon CAN YOU SEE ME NOW?”

… what?

 The Neon Demon is a slow burn, but the final twenty minutes left me wanting more, and it was already a very long movie, clocking in at 118 minutes. For me it ended just as it was getting good and I would had preferred the story to focus more on the horrific elements of cannibalism, then the grandiose scenes of mirror images and necrophilia.

The Neon Demon is a feast for the eyes, but the elation of colour isn’t enough for a meagre storyline. NWR seesaws between campy gore and a pretentions high brow art piece. Unsatisfyingly slow with no character development, The Neon Demon was an empty experience… At least its pretty.

“You know what my mother used to call me? Dangerous. “You’re a dangerous girl”. She was right. I am dangerous.” 

3.0 / 10