What did you do on Valentine’s Day night? Oh that sounds romantic and boring. I watched a Mexican horror movie full of cannibalism, psychedelic mind-fuckery and murder. It did have a giant close up of a vagina and some hairy balls, so I guess it had its romantic moments.
We Are The Flesh is the debut feature from writer/director Emiliano Rocha Minter and it’s certainly a provocative statement, if not necessarily one with a coherent point.
In an abandoned, junk-filled building, two grime-covered siblings find shelter with a twisted paternal figure called Mariano (Noé Hernández). With a big mischievous grin beaming through his giant beard and his body cavorting through a routine of expressive dance moves, Mariano is the most compelling element of We Are The Flesh. Sadly things take a less avuncular turn when the grubby vagabond encourages the siblings to have sex with each other. Then what follows is a random patchwork of continuously baffling and eye-watering moments, that ask more questions than they answer.
For instance, the siblings (Fauna and Lucio) spend much of their time building an indoor construction from furniture, cardboard and parcel tape. It’s not exactly made clear why they’re doing this, even when you see the ‘fruits’ of this labour. Also you may hazard an unpleasant guess as to what exactly Mariano is distilling at the beginning of the film, but why the ‘liquid’ has such a potent effect on Mariano remains a mystery. And then there are more general questions… What the fuck is everyone smeared in? What does it all mean? Who are these people? Why didn’t I watch Love Actually instead? Love Actually is a film I have no strong feelings for, but at least there’s much less forced incest and willy flicking.
We Are The Flesh is an explicit film to say the least. Boners, blow jobs, ejaculation, corpse frottaging (and we wonder why nobody who works in a school can access our website) – it’s a film spectacularly unafraid to shock and titillate in equal measure. Although it does so through a vague lens of art. The heat filter used during the first sex scene is a neat touch; the soundtrack is delightfully incongruous; the cinematography at times expressionistic and bathed in the most lurid warmth. Never has a film looked so good while forcing you to look the other way. Sadly despite its defiantly art-house touches, the film doesn’t necessarily stay the right side of pretentious. The aforementioned giant close-up of a vagina would make even Pedro Almodovar think, “you held on that a bit too long.”
We Are The Flesh is certainly never boring. Confusing, unpleasant, bonkers, sure – but never boring. And occasionally some interesting themes are surfaced. One scene finds Fauna asking her brother to close his eyes as she stands astride him, dripping her menstrual blood into his mouth. “There’s no such thing as love, only demonstrations of love.” It’s far from a punishment or a warning – more a reminder that what they have is real; something connected by blood.
By the end however, once the body horror has reached its inevitably gruesome apex you’ll feel more like rolling your eyes and forgetting the whole thing, rather than having a good scrub in the shower. This isn’t helped by a final last-minute twist that completely undermines the logic of everything that came before. It feels more like a dirty trick than a clever revelation – which may as well serve as a neat description of the entire film. 3/5
For more insane cinematic horror, check out our review of A Cure for Wellness.