Tag Archives: Mexican horror

Meat is Meat

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.





A Movie a Day for October! Day 20: We Are What We Are

We Are What We Are (2010)

Give writer/director Jorge Michel Grau credit, he took a fresh approach to the cannibalism film. His Spanish language picture lives in a drab underworld of poverty teeming with disposable populations and those who consume flesh, figuratively and literally.

In a quiet opening sequence, a man dies in a mall. It happens that this is a family patriarch and his passing leaves the desperately poor family in shambles. While their particular quandary veers spectacularly from expectations, there is something primal and authentic about it.

It’s as if a simple relic from a hunter-gatherer population evolved separately but within the larger urban population, and now this little tribe is left without a leader. An internal power struggle begins to determine the member most suited to take over as the head of the household, and therefore, there is some conflict and competition – however reluctant – over who will handle the principal task of the patriarch: that of putting meat on the table.

We’re never privy to the particulars – which again gives the whole affair a feel of authenticity – but adding to the crisis is the impending Ritual, which apparently involves a deadline and some specific meat preparations.

Grau’s approach is so subtle, so honest, that it’s easy to forget you’re watching a horror film. Indeed, were this family fighting to survive on a more traditional level, this film would simply be a fine piece of social realism focused on Mexico City’s enormous population in poverty. But it’s more than that. Sure, the cannibalism is simply an extreme metaphor, but it’s so beautifully thought out and executed!

The family dynamic is fascinating, every glance weighted and meaningful, every closed door significant. Grau draws eerie, powerful performances across the board, and forever veers in unexpected directions.

We Are What We Are is among the finest family dramas or social commentaries of 2010. Blend into that drama some deep perversity, spooky ambiguities and mysteries, deftly handled acting, and a lot of freaky shit and you have hardly the goriest film in the genre, but certainly one of the most relevant.

An intriguing American remake of sorts is forthcoming, but do yourself a favor and check out the original.