Blu-ray Review: ‘Raw’ (2016)

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Stars: Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf, Rabah Nait Oufella
Director: Julia Ducournau
Distributor: Second Sight Films

“Did wolves raise you?”

From Second Sight Films, the 2016 film Raw is in receipt of an updated Blu-ray release, and it may be the best one yet. Presented beautifully with a full range of lengthy extras, the updated package is a presentation of unbeatable value in the competitive market of boutique Blu-rays. 

A coming-of-age story like no other begins simplistically with the wholesome notion of parents dropping off their child at their new residency for schooling purposes. Justine (Garance Marillier), the nervously shy younger sister of fellow student, Alexia (Ella Rumpf), enrols in a veterinary school, which has historic ties with her parents’ education too. In fulfilling her academic prophecy, Justine has to endure potentially the worst of the worst student culture, especially for a vegetarian. Forced by peer pressure from her sister to consume meat, for Justine, this unflatteringly gross event is the genesis of a downward spiral which sees a lust for meat – and not just that of animals.

A debut theatrical feature film from Julia Ducournau, Raw is a horror film that, in its coming-of-age notion, manages to depict and explore two very serious topics with great success: student culture and cannibalism. The execution of these topics are displayed in such a raw (pardon the pun) detail, there are gritty and edgy ambiances all throughout. A lot of this success stems from not only the writing and performance, but of Ruben Impens’ cinematography too. On multiple occasions, Raw can be an uncomfortable viewing simply because of its camerwork. Overly crowded, claustrophobia-inducing student parties and extreme close-ups of physical pain are amongst this creative entity.

As far as horror films go, Raw, whilst grotesque and provocative, can also generate an ambiance of being a sugar-free A24 horror film, essentially. Aside from that, Raw also manages to convey its horror through emphases on black comedy and surrealism. The eating of a human finger, in one instance, transcended into Lynch/Eraserhead territory. Ultimately, Raw is a horror film where its context is scarier than anything that any jump-scare could ever provide. 

Beyond the pretty package, Second Sight have put together the full package on the Blu-ray disc. Away from the film, the disc is absolutely riddled from top to bottom with excellent extras. The bonus content impresses with in-depth and intellectual interviews from the lead actress (Marillier), director (Ducournau), and producer (Jean des Forets), plus the old faithful: audio commentaries. The further you go into the Special Features, the greater the rewards – fine gems in the forms of an hour-long panel discussion and a video essay are both utterly terrific. Here is the full list of Special Features:

• The Girl Can’t Help It: a new interview with Actor Garance Marillier

• Making Ends Meat: a new interview with Producer Jean des Forets

• New audio commentary by film critic Alexandra West

• Audio Commentary with Julia Ducournau and film critic Emma Westwood

• In the Name of Raw: an interview with Director Julia Ducournau

• A Family Affair: a new video essay by film critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

• Raw À Votre Goût –featurette with Julia Ducournau & film critic Emma Westwood

• Quick Bites with Julia Ducournau and film critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

• Genre Matters Panel Discussion

• Australian Premiere Introduction

• Australian Premiere Q&A with Julia Ducournau and Kier-La Janisse

• Alternative opening, deleted scenes, trailers

Additionally, the Blu-ray package further entails a booklet and three collectors’ art cards. Ultimately, this is without doubt one of the great Blu-ray releases in recent times. For a horror, this Limited Edition Blu-ray of Raw is untouchable in quality, depth and value. When extras/special features/bonus content can match the quality of the film in which it accompanies, we as viewers are in for a treat. Second Sight’s Blu-ray of Raw is everything collectors and casual fans need: a release that not only enriches the viewing experience of the film, but elevates its greatness too.

Raw is available now on Limited Edition Blu-ray. Many thanks to Aim Publicity and Second Sight Films for the pleasure of this film.

4 Stars


For John.

This article’s featured image: By Source, Second Sight Films, Fair Use

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