WE ARE THE FLESH

PrintE-mail Written by Michael Coldwell

Recently, while reviewing the utterly bizarre Mecanix, we suggested that Canada was historically the best bet for anyone in search of extreme filmmaking. Perhaps we should have said Mexico, because the new wave of weirdness flowing from that quarter is seriously challenging for the crown. You might want to pour yourself a stiff drink before embarking on We Are The Flesh because it pushes limits most mainstream movies won’t go near. But for all the death and depravity it delivers, there’s a creative passion at play that makes for compelling cinema. 

A teenage brother and sister stumble across a derelict building occupied by a grizzled old artist with a serious hygiene problem. Despite this, the two wastrels swiftly fall under his spell, entranced by his Mephistophelean manner. Initially they assist him with an art project to convert his grime-encrusted flat into what looks like an alien cave set from Space:1999. But before long, things take a dark turn and he has them eating human flesh (supplied via a mysterious Lynchian serving hatch), indulging in incestuous sex, doing all manner of things with bodily excretions and cannibalising a passing soldier. All unpaid work, of course, although anyone who ever interned with Damien Hirst or Tracy Emin won’t be in the least bit surprised by any of the above.

Debut director/writer Emiliano Rocha Minter’s script is slight, but might best be experienced as a descent into a playfully Mexican version of Hieronymus Bosh’s The Garden of Earthly Delights. As the transformative shenanigans of the movie progress, the single-apartment location moves from a colour-drained Tarkovsky-styled dump into warmly-lit otherworld, courtesy of some excellent design and cinematography. Classical music, the Mexican National Anthem and a discordant soundscape align behind the performances and visuals to seal a very particular kind of deal.

Minter is helped by a cast for whom the term dedicated is probably an understatement. No matter how unhinged your set-up, you still need strong performances – we call it the ‘Jack Nance Test’ - and all three main players pass with distinction. Front and centre as the demonic perved piper, lead actor Noe Hernandez seems to be channelling Terry Gilliam’s stock-in-trade madman from Monty Python before a third act transformation into a reborn, clean-shaven version of the same character. It’s a boggle-eyed marvel of a performance; you completely buy this charismatic lunatic’s power to coerce and entrance his young disciples. He is the living spirit of rebellion, an agent of chaos so fiendish he’d frighten most Middle Englanders down a rabbit hole. The campaign to get this as a free DVD giveaway with the Mail On Sunday starts here.

We Are The Flesh is a bizarrely arresting treat from an exciting new talent. It’s also just about the strangest film you’ll see this year. Why dip your toes in the pool when you can swan dive with a double twist?

WE ARE THE FLESH / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR & SCREENWRITER: EMILIANO ROCHA MINTER / STARRING: NOE HERNANDEZ, MARIA EVOLI, DIEGO GAMALIEL, GABINO RODRIGUEZ, MARIA CID / RELEASE DATE: NOVEMBER 18TH

Expected Rating: 6/10
Actual:
 


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