We Are the Flesh Review

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Sex, death and perversion rule in new Mexican shocker We Are the Flesh

There’s a surge of bratty, youthful energy, of invention and transgression pounding through the veins of new Mexican horror movie We Are the Flesh (releasing theatrically in select U.S. markets this month from Arrow Films) and it sprays that visionary mania all over the eyeballs of the audiences who dare watch it. Of course, that’s not the only thing it sprays. Those who don’t care for watching grease-drenched, menstrual blood-caked actors ejaculating and dripping all over the joint might want to steer clear of this one, as should those looking for a coherent plot or engaging, conventional narrative. No, Emiliano Rocha Minter’s debut feature is like a rabid amalgam of classic Jodorowsky, Maletesta’s Carnival of Blood and the recent Turkish shocker Baskin; it’s a film that is propelled along by its fixation on the visceral and is anchored by its single-minded desire to disorient and disrupt.

In some sort of unknown, potentially post-apocalyptic world (is it Mexico? is it Hell itself?) a giggling, diminutive hermit (Noé Hernández, who is a ringer for Willem Dafoe) lives in a squalid, labyrinthine flophouse, mixing a kind of porridge/paste/pablum that serves as his food and banging on a kind of drum while Rocha Minter’s maniacal camera circles him and circles him until the viewer feels physically ill. Into this grimy environment come sweet-natured brother and sister teenagers (María Evoli and Diego Gamaliel), survivors of whatever devastation currently plagues the planet and soon they are sort-of held captive by the messianic imp. I say sort-of because they are indeed free to leave if they want, but the concept of regular food (or rather, vaguely edible product that appears via a slot in the wall mysteriously) and a bed (in fact, a fluid soaked, filthy mattress) seems to keep them there. Slowly, surely, their captor manipulates them and steers them into grotesque sexual deviancy. Said deviancy involves the sister graphically fellating her brother (you see everything, though presumably the penis revealed is a prosthetic) while naked in a pile of grime while the hermit masturbates and talks dirty. Soon they’re all having psychedelic sex and, after the hermit ejaculates, he drops dead.

And that’s just the beginning of this deranged, revolting free-fall into sex, psychosis, necrophilia and cannibalism. Still with us? Then this movie might be for you…

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It certainly spoke to me. This writer was totally swept away by the sheer bravado of the filmmaking, by the hard edits and crazed zooms and grinding industrial drone/noise soundtrack. I was enraptured by the trio of fearless, physical performances at its center, with the studious and shocking close-ups of their genitals, by the way the sickening apartment these characters flail around in begins to resemble a womb, with velvety birth canals and lubricated walls. Rocha Minter’s intent is to trap you inside this heaving, dripping world and drive you insane, giving you a physical and emotional reaction while your mind goes wild as it instinctively tries to make sense of it all. Does it mean anything? I’m not sure it does, beyond its insistence in reminding us that we are just oozing bags of fluid and desire, barely held together by civilized impulses. If that’s the case, well, that’s enough for me.

Recent Latin horror (Here Comes the Devil, Atroz) is where the future of the genre seems to live, where the pulse of horror hides and We Are the Flesh is the current apex of its extremity, blending unforgettable image and sound and sensuality with a cackling sense of black humor and the sheer joy of sculpting cinema, of discovery and quest, of creating a series of mesmerizing moving paintings. This movie is alive. Even if you hate it, you cannot deny it this.

Highly recommended to sophisticated perverts. All others…look out!

(As an aside, during the climactic female masturbation sequence, the image blurs into red and blue,looking like a classic anaglyph 3D image. Inspired, I grabbed a pair of glasses and yep, that bit is in 3D. So if you check out the film during its theatrical engagement in either New York or LA this month…bring some glasses!)


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