Emiliano Rocha Minter’s “We Are The Flesh” is as captivating as it is repulsive.
“We Are The Flesh” examines dark fantasies in a decadent vision of humanity reduced to sexual arousing. And by sexual arousing, I mean all kinds of depravity. So beware, the faint-hearted, because you should definitely avoid this film.
A creepy loner Mariano (Noé Hernández) lives in an abandoned facility. One day, his solitude is violated by two young siblings – Lucio and Fauna. They claim to be wandering the city for days and seek an asylum to stay. Mariano allows that, but soon the newcomers realize they have signed a pact with the devil himself.
Minter’s “We Are The Flesh” is a variation of Goethe’s novel “Faust”, whilst Dario Argento’s “Suspiria” serves as the main visual and sound inspiration. There are several differences in comparison to the German writer’s story – two protagonists instead of one, the setting and the pact’s assumptions. The Mexican director is interested in the very same desire as Goethe though. Most importantly, he is interested in lustfulness, trapped until the circumstances allow it to take control.
Therefore, when God turns his eyes to the other side, we are just the flesh. The Mephistophelean Mariano tricks the siblings to discover their deepest cravings. He is a kind of a human gate to hell – an emissary delivering the invitation. And once they fall for his tricks, Minter dives into the real horror, which begins with the impressive visuals. The creepy, meticulously prepared interior of the destroyed building, the camera circling upside down (which establishes the same amount of unease as in Denis Villeneuve’s “Arrival”) – it all creates a very perturbing atmosphere. The effect strengthens once Minter adds the unnerving sound design that coupled with Hernández’s convincingly menacing and loony character, is nothing short of the worst nightmare imaginable. If you liked Jack Nicholson from “The Shining”, you’re gonna love Mariano.
However, “We Are The Flesh” doesn’t stop there. Apart from creepiness, there is also a hell lot of repugnant imagery. Fauna, whilst standing naked over Lucio’s face, whispers that “there is no such thing as love – only demonstrations of love”. Right afterwards, her menstruation blood drops into her brother’s mouth.
There is also a very graphic cut-throat scene in which the characters sing/exclaim the Mexican anthem seconds before slaughtering a man. There are even close-ups (and I mean, porn-like close-ups) of genitalia, shot to capture testicles’ slightest movement. In other words, Luis Bunuel meets Gaspar Noe and Lars Von Trier.
The cinematography achievements are jaw-dropping, but Minter is not quite the raconteur. Unlike other creepy, but blissful genre pieces – “The Witch” for example – “We Are The Flesh” is so deeply immersed in its “authorism” that it loses the plot structure on the way. Even if it is poetry that should not be literally understood, Minter’s film doesn’t make much sense. It gets too confusing and self-confident about its artistry. And the “M. Night Shyamalanesque” twist in the final scene is the laziest WTF concept that Minter could possibly come up with.
Many author pieces of cinema utilize extensive symbolism to hide flaws of the story. Some of them submerge in provocation and repulsiveness. In such films, characters serve as monuments, whilst the directors are more interested in the allegories rather than following the script in sensu stricto. “We Are The Flesh” is all about embracing such approach – it’s a beautifully nightmarish piece of art, that sometimes loses too much of its sanity. But of one thing I am sure – “We Are The Flesh” will spark a lot of discussion. And that is an unprecedented success.
We Are The Flesh (2016)
Dir. Emiliano Rocha Minter
Cast: Noé Hernández
Hate Grade: 4/10