Emiliano Rocha Minter’s “We Are The Flesh” is just as captivating as it is repulsive. But, within its disgusting layer lies a bone-deep nightmare that will make horror fans happy.
The Mexican horror film “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.
A creepy loner Mariano (Noé Hernández) lives in an abandoned facility, somewhere in Mexico City. 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. Minter deploys two protagonists instead of one, then changes 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 break out of shackles.
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 human gate to hell – an emissary delivering the invitation. And once they fall for his tricks, Minter dives into an acid-trip horror, which begins with the impressive visuals.
A Mexican acid-trip
The blood-curdling, meticulous design of the building’s interior reminds of games like “Doom” or “Silent Hill”; the camera that circles and throws the world upside down (close call to Denis Villeneuve’s “Arrival”); visuals ooze a truly hallucinogenic vibe. The effect strengthens once Minter adds the unnerving sound design. The topping’s Mariano – 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.
Apart from its ubiquitous creepiness sound-and-image-wise, there is also a hell lot of repugnant perversion at play. In an example, 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. Want more? The Mexican director’s ready: 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. One could say that it’s Luis Bunuel hanging out with Gaspar Noe and Lars Von Trier.
The cinematography achievements of “We Are The Flesh” are jaw-dropping, but Minter is not quite the raconteur.
Unlike other creepy, but blissful genre pieces – “The Witch” by Robert Eggers for example – “We Are The Flesh” is so deeply immersed in its “auteur factor” 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 story-wise. It’s 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. A true pity it is.
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) – Culturally Hated or Loved?
Horror fans will likely fall in love with the fear-inducing trips into lustful massacre and wicked imagery of “We Are The Flesh”, but more demanding viewers might see through the gimmicks and be left wanting more.
We Are The Flesh (2016)
Dir. Emiliano Rocha Minter
Hate Grade: 4/10
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