In We Are The Flesh, first-time director Emiliano Rocha Minter gleefully crosses every boundary of good taste and morality he can think of - incest, necrophilia, cannibalism, extremely long close-ups of genitalia. It's a gore-filled, sexually explicit horror show with art-house pretensions that wants you to believe it's saying something meaningful about the state of things in Mexico.
In it, two siblings, Lucio (Diego Gamaliel) and Fauna (María Evoli), find there way into an abandoned apartment complex. There they find Mariano (Noé Hernández), a crazed, possibly psychotic, but certainly disturbed man seeking out a solitary existence. He offers them food and shelter if they will help him. Though we are not told in explicit terms, the film feels as if these characters are living in some nightmarish post-apocalyptic hellscape. The brother and sister note that they’ve been wandering the city for years barely surviving. Certainly, they must have had a hard time of it for they are willing to take whatever abuse Mariano throws at them, never attempting to escape.
He makes them wear hazmat-like clothes while they build an odd structure of taped together bits of furniture and torn apart lumber. Slowly, these deranged tinker toys morph into a womb-like cave from the gates of Hell. From there, Mariano directs into not-simulated acts of depravity and violence.
Just in case you thought all the blood-letting and not-simulated sex was all for fun, the film has Fauna and Mariano sing the Mexican National Anthem just before they slit a soldier's throat and feast upon whatever spurts out. Don’t you see, it's all an allegory for how Mexico has become a nation filled with violence and lust? This isn’t just an extreme example of torture porn; the film fairly screams at you, "this is Art, damn it."
It's reminiscent of A Serbian Film in that way. The film uses extraordinary violence and extreme sex to condemn the culture's violence and over sexualization of everything. Or at least that’s the line they’re selling. How well you're buying it may depend on how strong a stomach you have.
Beyond a penchant for the extremes, Minter has an eye for really interesting visuals. The apartment begins as a disgusting, dilapidated ruin but morphs into something organic, beautiful and gross. His camera creeps and circles about the apartment in ways that make it hard not to go back and watch his scenes again no matter how horrifying things become. He’s certainly a director worth paying attention to, but I’m hoping next time he finds something less shocking and more absorbing a story to tell.
We Are The Flesh is an interesting entry into Arrow Video’s American output. Normally, they stick with much older fare, not films that have only been released within the last few months, but here’s hoping they continue to expand their releases to include more films like this. They've done their usual great job with this Blu-ray release. The video looks excellent. Much of the film takes place in low light as Mariano has covered all the windows, but I didn’t notice any undue grain. Or any other marks of a bad transfer at all. The audio likewise is good. The creepy score comes in loud and clear but never overpower the dialogue.
Extras include a very informative and interesting video essay by Virginie Sélavy plus new interviews with the director and cast. There are two short films (Dentro and Videohome) from the director included. I’d tell you what they are about but I’m not sure I understood what happened in them at all. But Minter’s grotesquely beautiful visual style is on full display. Also included are some video stills and the trailer.