We discuss Raw and Thelma, two classics of modern horror from directors who both have exciting new films on the festival circuit.
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This episode features Editor-in-Chief Alex Heeney, Executive Editor Orla Smith, and Editor-at-Large Mary Angela Rowe.
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Raw (Julia Ducournau, 2016)
A young vegetarian eats meat for the first time and it awakens in her a hunger for something else. Justine leaves her strict-but-distant parents vegetarian, veterinarian parents to study at veterinary college herself. Justine enters as a disciplined high achiever who cares deeply for animals. What she finds is an anarchistic, sexist college nearly devoid of adults in which frosh are subject to a week to a week of relentless hazing. Worse, her older sister Alex has become a “cool girl” leader among the upperclassmen. When Alex pressures Justine into taking part in a hazing ritual where she eats raw rabbit kidneys, Justine begins to experience physical changes and then strange hungers for meat — cooked, raw, and then human. Justine eventually discovers that Alexia went through the same process herself and has become an unrepentant cannibal. Justine rejects Alexia’s embrace of her condition, but Justine’s hunger is growing, and she has carnal thoughts — in every sense — about her sweetly easygoing gay roommate.
Raw is available on VOD and streaming on Crave in Canada, Netflix in the US, and Shudder in Australia
Thelma (Joachim Trier, 2017)
In Thelma, we meet the eponymous character when she first arrives at university to study medicine, leaving home for the first time. She’s shy, smart, and strictly religious, but she’s sent off kilter when she starts to experience seizures for the first time, triggered partly by her attraction to a female classmate, Anja. Along with these seizures, she discovers that she has supernatural powers that she can’t control, that act on her instinctual desires and impulses in often harmful ways. The film explores Thelma’s close by toxic relationship to her overbearing parents, and follows her as she pursues a romance with Anja and investigates her new illness, learning that it originated in her childhood and even in previous generations of her family.
Thelma is available on VOD and streaming on the Criterion Channel in Canada and the US, and Hulu and Kanopy in the US
Show notes for Raw and Thelma:
- Purchase our ebook Beyond empowertainment: Feminist horror and the struggle for female agency. The book features a case study on Thelma, featuring an essay and interviews with Trier, co-writer Eskil Vogt, and cinematographer Jakob Ihre. Read excerpts here.
- Register for The Seventh Circle, a symposium on gender, sexuality, and disability in horror cinema.
- Sign up for updates on the first book to ever be published on the films of Norwegian filmmaker Joachim Trier
- Read Mary Angela’s 2017 review of Raw
- Read a preview of Orla’s essay on sisterhood in Raw from Beyond Empowertainment.
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