A cannibal horror that had ’em fainting in the aisles.
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Vets – gentle, kindly, caring folk, right? You might think otherwise if, like shy teenager Justine (Garance Marillier), you’d newly arrived at the hellish veterinary college near Liège where hapless first years are subjected to sexual harassment and viciously humiliating hazing rituals. Being made to crawl on all fours and getting drenched in buckets of animal blood are the least of it.
Justine’s older sister Alexia (Ella Rumpf) is a sophomore at the college, but that doesn’t help little sis much. Rather the contrary, in fact. At another event it’s Alexia who pressures Justine, a vegetarian, into eating raw rabbit’s kidney. And that’s when things start getting seriously gory.
Justine finds herself experiencing strange cravings for meat – and not just dead animal meat, either. Before long, her relationship with Alexia is developing in ways that go well beyond the sisterly – to say nothing of her attitude to gay roomie Adrien (Rabah Naït Oufella).
Making her cinematic debut as writer/director, Julia Ducournau weaves black humour and subtle feminist elements into her offbeat coming-ofage tale, taking the Cronenbergian body-horror theme in unexpected directions. And the surprises keep coming – all the way to a pitch-black finale. At the Toronto Film Festival screening, paramedics reportedly had to take care of fainting audience members. You have been warned… Philip Kemp
Bringing a whole new meaning to eating roadkill.