Fantasia Fest Review: WE ARE THE FLESH Will Give You The Weirdest Boner

A magic, meaty Mexican madhouse.

As the credits rolled on my screening of We Are The Flesh, I thought to myself, “Jesus Christ, that was one weird-ass movie.”

It didn’t take long for my opinion to settle on “that movie was fucking awesome.”

We Are The Flesh, the debut feature of Mexican director Emiliano Rocha Minter, is indeed fucking awesome. It’s also fucking weird, opening on a bearded beast of a man (Noe Hernandez) in an abandoned, trash-filled building (a building somewhere), rendering down some mystery fluid (God knows) into flammable gas. Moments after he says the film’s first word, he’s banging on a drum and roaring, and we’re back to a realm of pure, intense performance. 

Into this hovel stumble a pair of teenage siblings (Maria Evoli and Diego Gamaliel), hunting for someplace to stay away from the apparently-uninhabitable outside world. Tired and on the verge of defeat, they’ve no choice but to join Hernandez in his busted-up building. But there’s more to be found inside than just a man and a barrel of mystery goop: they’ve some unconventional life lessons to learn.

Over the course of the film, the trio become a strange family unit, building an elaborate network of tunnels together in which they will spend the rest of the film. They come together in more ways than one, as the building’s original inhabitant goads them into performing ever more lurid and inhuman acts. It’d feel like abuse were it not so powerfully seductive. Hernandez doesn’t play some dude getting his rocks off over a couple of lithe teens; he’s like a Cenobite, or some Cronenbergian god, opening these youths’ eyes to the dark wonders that await them in Flesh Heaven. Nobody’s forcing them to do anything - it’s a psycho-sexual spiral down which they willingly fling themselves.

The same could be said for watching the film, given how much sex, cannibalism, and bodily fluids sweep across the screen. The characters spend much of their screen time nude, often aroused, often engaging in sex acts (possibly unsimulated; it’s hard to tell) with each other, themselves, or whatever can be found. We Are The Flesh is that rare film that makes you cheer for incest; as Hernandez’s possibly-immortal character waxes poetic about the pleasures of the flesh, whether eaten or beaten, we’re drawn in too, by his animal magnetism and Minter’s hypnotic imagery and soundscapes.

With sparse dialogue, claustrophobic production design, and aggressively confrontational imagery, We Are The Flesh feels like a meeting of Alejandro Jodorowsky and Gaspar Noe in the troll sewer from Holy Motors. Extreme close-ups of genitals stare out from the screen; thermal footage of intercourse dares the viewer to guess which body parts what they’re looking at; characters die and are reborn; taboos are shattered left and right on the characters’ quest for fucked-up enlightenment. It’s fucking great.

Looking back on the film, the viewing experience becomes even more incredible. It’s abstract and outlandish and artsy, but even the most conventional cinemagoer would be hard-pressed not to find some level of entertainment inside it. There’s little dialogue, but the performances and direction are so potent and original that it’s hard to even notice. It also feels like it’s making a profound statement about Mexico, though as with A Serbian Film, I don’t know enough about the politics of its country of origin to comment.

I can’t recommend this film enough, to the right people. We Are The Flesh is either unwatchable or unmissable, depending on your attitude towards unconventional filmmaking and weird sex cults. A handful of people walked out of my screening, but the rest of the audience was captivated, engaging in excited conversations after the lights came back up. Hell, maybe everyone needs to see it, just to confront the darker parts of their id.

Whatever your cinematic sensibility, you ain’t seen nothin’ like this before.

Related Articles

Comments