We Are the Flesh
by Hope Madden
Are you squeamish?
This is actually the first question my friend was asked in an interview for an internship with a meat packing plant, but it’s also a good piece of self-reflection before you sit down to We Are the Flesh.
First time feature writer/director Emiliano Rocha Minter announces his presence with authority – and a lot of body fluids – in this carnal horror show.
A hellish vision if ever there was one, the film opens on a filthy man with a lot of packing tape. He’s taking different types of nastiness, taping it inside a plastic drum to ferment, and eventually turning it into a drink or a drug. Hard to tell – loud drum banging follows, as well as hallucinations and really, really deep sleep.
During that sleep we meet two siblings, a teenaged brother and sister who’ve stumbled into the abandoned building where the hermit lives.
What happens next? What doesn’t?! Incest, cannibalism, a lot of shared body fluids of every manner, rape, maybe some necrophilia – depending on your perspective – a lot of stuff, none of it pleasant.
Minter has created a fever dream as close to hell as anything we’ve seen since last year’s Turkish nightmare Baskin.
Had Minter not found an anchor for the overwhelmingly lurid imagery, his movie would have felt like little more than self-indulgent horror porn (like literally horror and porn).
Noé Hernández conjures a goblin-like image, his unblinking eyes and demonic grin permanent fixtures as he mentors his teenage charges in his repellant ways. The boy he’s dubbed Skeletor (Diego Gamaleil) resists, though his consistently surprising sister (María Evoli) is less inhibited.
There’s little chance you’ll watch this film in its entirety without diverting your eyes – whether your concern is the problematic sexuality or just the onslaught of viscous secretions, the screen is a slurry of shit you don’t really want to see.
What opens as a post-apocalyptic hellscape eventually morphs into a social comment on Mexico City’s disposable population, which is both the film’s strength and its weakness.
Unfortunately, though Minter’s movie boasts deeply unnerving ideas and compelling performances, in light of other Mexican filmmakers making social commentaries – Jorge Michel Grau’s brilliant 2010 We Are What We Are, in particular – We Are the Flesh comes up slightly lacking.