M.L. Miller here! As I go into my tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Seven of my year-long Retro-Best in Horror I’m recapping the Countdown beginning officially on October 1, 2016 and going through September 30, 2017. I have posted Best of lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t! Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!

Released on March 10, 2017! Available On Demand, digital download, & DVD here Focus Features!

RAW (2016)

aka FREAKING, CRAVE
Directed by Julia Ducournau
Written by Julia Ducournau
Starring Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf, Rabah Nait Oufella, Laurent Lucas, Joana Preiss, Bouli Lanners, Marion Vernoux, Thomas Mustin, Marouane Iddoub, Jean-Louis Sbille, Benjamin Boutboul, Virgil Leclaire, Anna Solomin, Sophie Breyer, Danel Utegenova, Bérangère McNeese, Morgan Politi, Alice D’Hauwe, Pierre Nisse, Maïté Katinka Lonne, Amandine Hinnekens, Sibylle du Plessy, Denis Mpunga, Alexis Julemont, Lich Jaas, Helena Coppejans, Charlotte Sandersen, Christophe Menier
Find out more about this film here, @Rawmovie, and on Facebook here

There’s horror with monsters or slashers and then there’s a more sophisticated style of horror not unlike the films of David Cronenberg that delve into the horror of the human condition. RAW is the latter and it’s got more power and shock than most horror films you’re going to see this year.

Justine (Garance Marillier) is a young French girl about to leave home for the first time and attend a veterinary college. She’s a waify little thing and a die-hard vegetarian. Her whole family is, as her mother attests, vehemently as well in the opening moments when a lunch lady serves a chunk of meat in Justine’s mashed potatoes. But when Justine begins rush week at the school and is forced to eat raw meat in order to be accepted by her peers, she begins having cravings for meat stronger than anything she has ever felt before. Soon, she is overcome with this compulsion to draw blood—an act supported by her sister Alexia (Ella Rumpf) who is an elder classmate at the school and is more than hard on her little sis during this delicate time of self-discovery. Thus begins the coming of age story of a young cannibal.

There is a level of gross this film achieves that I don’t think has been achieved since Cronenberg claimed the mantle of king of body horror. The gore in this film is not over the top. But there are scenes that actually made me feel nauseous and usually, I have a pretty cast iron stomach when it comes to gore on film. Maybe it is the fact that I dissected animals in school or maybe it’s the fact that I had a class in college that once visited a medical cadaver (most likely because my sadistic professor wanted to see our reactions to it), but this film got under my skin on so many levels that I am still twitching about it. There seems to be real cadavers of dogs and cows are used during these scenes, which skeeved me out because I know what that smells like. There is a scene where one of the students is armpit deep in a cow’s asshole that I can’t unsee. But while the animal stuff is gross, the cannibal stuff is even more so because it is done in such a microscopically intimate way. You see Justine’s first taste of blood, and experience her spiral into an orgasmic fury once she tastes it. Because this scene is so up close and personal, it amplifies the gross-out factor all the more. This is a film that those who get queasy easily will want to avoid at all costs.

But this is not some brainless gorefest. I don’t know what it is saying about vegetarianism–maybe that it is an immature act in itself that eventually gives way to a more mature appreciation for meat. Or maybe it’s just an allegory about a girl becoming a woman and trying to control her sexual urges. I think it might be a little of both, but filmmaker Julia Ducournau makes every second of this film count with an electrifying soundtrack (one scene where Justine makes out with the mirror is erotic as hell set to a French rap song) and all kinds of vivid colors being sloshed around. Thematically and visually, this film is an absolute feast.

There are little homages to films like CARRIE here and there in RAW as well as some themes that also arose in both the Mexican and American versions of WE ARE WHAT WE ARE, but this film is a powerhouse. Little Garance Marillier dazzles with innocence personified in one second and then turns up the heat to sizzle by showing her bestial and sensual sides. While it’s a little hard to believe this film takes place during one pledge week of school, the transformation you see Justine undergo is mesmerizing every step of the way. This is a film with layers. There is a visceral grossness to it, but below that, there is a vivid and vibrant life full of metaphor, real character development, and a story that resonates off the screen. RAW is the odd type of film that dares you to look away from its brilliance and often does to grotesque lengths to do it, but everything ends up being so engaging that you simply can’t take your eyes away from it. Fantastically acted, realistically gory, and intelligently realized, RAW is a film you will never forget.

Click here for the trailer!


THE 2016-2017 COUNTDOWN!


#1 – RAW
#2 – THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS
#3 – GET OUT
#4 – THE DEVIL’S CANDY
#5 – THE EYES OF MY MOTHER
#6 – CAPTURE KILL RELEASE
#7 – THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE
#8 – IT CHAPTER ONE
#9 – THE VOID
#10 – SWEET SWEET LONELY GIRL
#11 – SAVAGELAND
#12 – IT COMES AT NIGHT
#13 – THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER
#14 – THE SIMILARS
#15 – HOWL
#16 – SEOUL STATION
#17 – THE TRANSFIGURATION
#18 – THE GREASY STRANGLER
#19 – I AM THE PRETTY THING IN THE HOUSE
#20 – ANNABELLE 2: CREATION
#21 – SPLIT
#22— TRASH FIRE
#23 – 47 METERS DOWN
#24 – HELL HOUSE LLC
#25 – THE SUBLET
#26 – PATCHWORK
#27 – IT STAINS THE SANDS RED
#28 – GERALD’S GAME
#29 – LAKE BODOM
#30 – THE NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE
#31 – THE EVIL WITHIN


M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.

I’ve set up a Patreon Page to help keep the lights on at MLMILLERWRITES, so if you have extra dough, please support me!

Interested in advertising on MLMILLERWRITES? Feel free to contact me here and we can talk turkey!

Don’t forget to share, like, and come back tomorrow for more reviews!