With his feature debut, Emiliano Rocha Minter adds the stunning We Are The Flesh to the growing list of groundbreaking and transgressive Mexican horror cinema. From We Are What We Are to the anthology Mexico Barbaro, the titles coming from south of our border have shined a light on the often dire political, social and economic climate that exists. Bolstered by breathtaking performances from Noe Hernandez and Maria Cid, Minter pushes the boundaries of what is acceptable on screen with a borderline pornographic film that is impossible to turn away from.
Set during an indeterminate time period, Hernandez’ takes up residence in what might be one of the last livable buildings in Mexico City. He’s isolated himself from the remnants of the world to the point of madness. Within the walls of his building he has begun to create a pseudo womb to climb back in to. When two siblings who have wandered into his building to squat, he takes them under his wing.
What follows is a surreal nightmare filled with sex and violence presented with a stunning level of artistry that draws immediate comparisons to Alejandro Jodorowsky’s masterpiece Holy Mountain. Minter dives deep into a mind brimming with madness, as Hernandez’ Mariano sees himself as a father figure, sexual mentor, slumlord and messiah all wrapped up in one. Minter’s vision pulses colors of cold and deep reds and golds fill the screen.
As the film progresses, Mariano pulls the two siblings under his wing. He not only encourages, but forces the pair to give in to their sexual impulses. Maria seems to be a willing disciple of what ever post apocalyptic gibberish Mariano is selling. Her brother Diego needs to be constantly pushed forward. Mariano torments and bullies Diego, until the boy gives in to temptation. What transpires is the flaunting of one on screen taboo after another. A non-simulated, graphic incestuous sexual encounter between the two siblings is just the appetizer. Consuming of menstruation blood, female masturbation, the camera lingering on both sets of genitals for long stretches of time and an extended, blood soaked orgy all take center stage at one moment or another.
Without spoiling the film, the last two minutes force the viewer to question the circumstances of the preceding ninety minutes. Minter has painted a world turned into an unlivable, hellish landscape where survival is not guaranteed, and where one may as well give in to all vice, decadence and temptation since there may only be days left on the planet. What we see in the final reel of film raises the essential and fundamental questions of what constitutes a post-apocalyptic world and for whom does that worldview apply to? It’s a bold artistic statement that challenges the viewer to come to their own drastic conclusions on what the film means.
We Are The Flesh is the type of film that validates the film festival experience. This is not the kind of film that’s going to pop up at the top of your Netflix Recommendations chart, it’s never going to play your local multiplex, and unless a network decides to run a 22 minute long cut of the film, it sure as shit will never run on basic cable. Yet it’s a film so ripe for examination, from the cultural implications to the debate over what constitutes art. We Are The Flesh is a film that not only demands to be seen, but to be watched and chewed over multiple times.