Monday, October 23, 2017

Raw (2016 film)

Written and directed by Julia Ducournau, Grave (Raw) is the story of a vegetarian who starts veterinary school where she endures abuse in a week-long hazing ritual that has her eating meat with results becoming very deadly. The film is an unconventional horror film that follows a young woman who would eat meat for the very first time as she would completely lose herself in the process. Starring Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf, and Laurent Lucas. Grave is an eerie yet intense film from Julia Ducournau.

The film revolves around a young woman who attends a veterinary school as a freshman where she would have to participate in a week-long hazing ritual where she and other freshmen are tormented by seniors as one of them include eating a bit of raw meat. Yet, the ritual of eating raw meat for this young freshman who is a strict vegetarian that has never tasted any kind of meat leads to trouble as she also endures with trying to fit in as well as succeed in the school. Julia Ducournau’s screenplay follows the week in the life of this young woman in Justine (Garance Marillier) who is eager to follow the footsteps of her parents (Laurent Lucas and Joana Preiss) in being a veterinarian as her older sister Alexia (Ella Rumpf) is also at the school as a senior. Justine would room with a gay freshman in Adrien (Rabah Nait Oufella) who would also endure the same hazing abuse during rush week.

Yet, Adrien is able to fit in with other students despite not being academically-gifted as Justine but does provide Justine a need for companionship. Still, Justine copes with the effects of eating a raw rabbit kidney as she has rashes and a need to eat meat which is unusual for her as well as this thirst for human flesh. During the course of the story, Justine struggles to maintain her sanity as she turns to Alexia who would unveil a secret of her own which is just as disturbing.

Ducournau’s direction is mainly straightforward in terms of its approach to compositions as it opens with this eerie scene of a car crashing because of someone standing in front of the car and it crashes. Shot on various locations in Belgium, the film does play into this world of schools where hazing is commonplace as it is mainly set in a school where there’s animals and classrooms. There’s also parties where Ducournau’s direction has her using some hand-held tracking shots to capture the energy of the parties as well as the slow-burn into Justine’s behavior. Much of these scenes are presented with medium shots and close-ups to play into the drama and suspense while Ducournau would use wide shots for a few scenes to establish the locations. Even in moments during the second act where Justine learns more about these strange moments involving crashed cars. There are moments that are disturbing as it relates to Justine’s appetite for human flesh that include a sex scene where she has trouble maintaining control. Especially as she starts to cope with her behavior as well as the abuse in the hazing as it gets more intense. Overall, Ducournau crafts a very chilling yet riveting film about a strict vegetarian who gets hungry for human flesh after a forced hazing in eating raw meat.

Cinematographer Ruben Impens does excellent work with the film’s cinematography in creating some unique lighting and moods for some of the parties and interior scenes set at night as well as going for something low-key and natural for the daytime exterior scenes. Editor Jean-Christophe Bouzy does brilliant work with the editing as much of it is straightforward in terms of playing up some of the suspense as well as some rhythmic cuts for some of the scenes involving horror including some slow-motion cuts. Production designer Laurie Colson does fantastic work with the look of the dorm rooms as well as the classrooms and places for the parties. Costume designer Elise Ancion does nice work with the costumes as many of the clothes in the film are largely casual with some of the students wearing lab coats.

Special makeup effects artists Olivier Afonso and Amelie Grossier do amazing work with the look of some of grisly moments in the film as it relates to the bits of gore in the way Justine’s rashes would look as well as her first taste of flesh. Visual effects supervisor Philippe Frere does terrific work with some of the film’s minimal visual effects as it’s mainly bits of set dressing as well as a few scenes involving animals. Sound editor Severine Favriau does superb work with the sound in capturing the atmosphere of the parties as well as quieter moments in the classrooms. The film’s music by Jim Williams is incredible for its mixture of eerie electronic music with some orchestral flourishes that also include some ghostly keyboard music while music supervisors Guillaume Baurez and Martin Caraux would provide a soundtrack that features some indie music, hip-hop, and pop as it is infectious and help provide a tone for the scene.

The casting by Judith Chalier and Christophe Hermans is wonderful as it feature some notable small roles from Marion Vernoux as a nurse, Bouli Lanners as a truck driver who meet Justine and Adrien at a truck stop, and Jean-Louis Sbille as a professor who seems to dislike Justine as he becomes very critical of her work. Laurent Lucas and Joana Preiss are superb as Justine and Alexia’s parents who are alumni at the school who are troubled by what is happening to Justine. Rabah Nait Oufella is fantastic as Adrien as Justine’s gay roommate who is disturbed and confused by Justine’s behavior as well as being uneasy around Alexia. Ella Rumpf is excellent as Justine’s older sister Alexia as a senior student who is trying to get Justine to survive but also exhibit the worst aspects of bullying. Finally, there’s Garance Marillier in an amazing performance as Justine as a young freshman who attends the veterinary school as she struggles to fit in until a forced bit of a dead rabbit’s kidney would have her become obsessed with human flesh as it would have her exhibit some odd behavior as it’s a very complex and dangerous performance from the newcomer.

Grave is a phenomenal film from Julia Ducournau that features a great performance from Garance Marillier. Along with its ensemble cast, intriguing premise on hazing and fitting in, a fun soundtrack, and some very intense moments. It’s a film that doesn’t play by the rules of body horror but it does show what happen when a vegetarian is forced to eat raw meat and it comes with a price. In the end, Grave is a spectacular film from Julia Ducournau.

Julia Ducournau Films: (Mange) - Titane

© thevoid99 2017


Brittani Burnham said...

Yay I'm glad you liked this!

Alex Withrow said...

I am so happy you saw this, liked it, and wrote such a great review for it. This is still in my top 3 of the year so far. Loved it.

thevoid99 said...

@Brittani-Same here. I was surprised at how good it was. I'm just stoked that my local library had it on DVD.

@Alex Withrow-Right now, it's in my top 5 films of 2016. A total surprise that made me squirm and be enthralled by. That is the mark of a good horror movie.