As the students at the heart of Raw prepare to dissect dogs, their professor tries to reassure them: "Dive in -- don't be afraid." The encouragement also works for prospective viewers of Julia Ducournau's debut feature. The French flick follows Justine (Garance Marillier), a 16-year-old brainiac who leaves her sheltered, vegetarian home to start her first year of veterinary school. While there, Justine learns a lot about herself -- chiefly, that she's hungry for flesh.
Fittingly, Raw comes packed with gory moments: The students cut into those dogs, there's a never-ending hairball puke fest, a sweet bisou becomes a bite, and there's gnawed flesh galore. Sure, a few patrons have fainted -- and some screenings now come with barf bags -- but to pass Raw off as too gross would be a mistake. You'd be missing out on a movie that very effectively uses cannibalism to put a fresh spin on the traditional coming-of-age story. We can't recommend it enough.