Raw (Fr/Belg) ⭐⭐⭐

Horror films do not fare well against pre-release hype as the most effective horror is the one that creeps up on you unsuspectingly and a pre-warned audience will often find what’s on screen not half as scary as what they imagined beforehand in their heads. This film is a typical case in point, handicapped by the overselling of the Horror in what is in essence a French Arthouse horror film. While there’s plenty for fans of gore to gross out on, I never really feel scared. It doesnt help that I also didn’t find the main character sympathetic (for reasons I cannot put my finger on) but to its credit, it is a nicely assembled film that explores themes of adolescence alienation, sexual awakening and growing pains via metaphors – not for the first time, as Carrie or Ginger Snaps, to name but two other films, have been there before. A family of vegetarian veterinarians sees their younger daughter heading to vet school, following her parents and older sister’s footsteps, as she is greeted by a series of hazing initiation ceremonies that doesnt seem all that bad, as long as you enjoy copious amounts of sex and alcohol with a little bit of rabbit liver. Events begin to escalate and soon gets out of hand in a foreboding but slow manner. The film is strong on visual imagery and compositions, utilising animals both alive and dead, to evoke something deep and meaningful. However, it is often too pretty and pretentious, and not raw (pun intended) and creepy enough to be truly effective. Despite all that, what saved the film from a lesser rating is a decent ending that evolves naturally in an uncontrived manner while delivering one last reveal in the final moments that at long last manages to send a shiver down my spine.

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