Sometimes you finish watching a movie and think, "Well, that was weird." With WE ARE THE FLESH (2016), you may find yourself saying that after every scene. Maybe even every single thing that happens in every scene.
The premise is simple--a very strange and twisted man named Mariano (Noé Hernández in gleefully-crazed mode) is up to something very strange and twisted in an abandoned building, and when homeless brother and sister Lucio (Diego Gamaliel) and Maria (Maria Evoli) enter the building seeking food and shelter, they enter into Mariano's world. What follows is complete and utter madness.
Mariano's madness is expressed verbally through his incessant wild-eyed philosophizing, which lays bare the inner roilings of his squirming id. Since philosophy and madness can be an unsettling combination, this alone is enough to leave us reeling.
Fueled by endless exuberance and made manifest with a manic industriousness--in which he forces his two unwilling charges to participate--the result is a nightmare of horror and perversion limited only by a wholly unfettered imagination.
What follows is a dizzying cinematic freefall into the most extreme depths of depravity in which such things as incest and necrophilia are only the start. This is filmmaking on a subconscious level, with no limits or boundaries.
The abundant amounts of sex and violence are both graphic and grotesque. In fact, once this film gets cranked up, very little occurs that isn't shockingly, disturbingly grotesque.
Eventually I reached a point where I stopped trying to evaluate WE ARE THE FLESH on a technical level--that this is writer-director Emiliano Rocha Minter's first feature film is something of an artistic marvel--and just found myself trying to endure it. Most of it is very hard to get through, and I couldn't wait for several of the scenes to end.
Comparisons to other filmmakers come to mind. I kept being reminded of the work of Spanish surrealist Fernando Arrabal, whose images are similarly outlandish and disturbing, and that of David Lynch during his willfully strange ERASERHEAD days.
The joyful reveling in the grotesque also reminded me of PINK FLAMINGOS-era John Waters, while some of the imagery that's just plain out-there seems like it could've been conceived by a deranged Stanley Kubrick tripping his head off on LSD.
Much of the story takes place within a giant fabricated womb, writhing with naked bodies caked in blood and filth and engaged in acts so degrading as to give even the most jaded viewer second thoughts about whether or not they should even be watching. I began to seriously question if doing so could by any stretch of the imagination be described as "entertainment."
So there you have it. WE ARE THE FLESH, whatever else it may be, is a stunningly effective descent into the underbelly of cinema which, depending on your individual tastes, tolerances, and/or convictions, has the power to either rivet or repel.
As for me personally, I didn't enjoy it, but I don't think I was supposed to. And I'm a little relieved that I didn't.
Spanish w/ English subtitles / 80 minutes / 1.85:1
Los Angeles Theatrical Release:
Friday, January 13, 2017
Laemmle's Ahrya Fine Arts Theatre
8556 Wilshire Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
This title will be released on Blu-ray and DVD February 14, 2017
Pre-order it at Amazon.com: