There are films that push the boundaries of cinema, forcing you to appraise them as individual art forms, unlike anything you may have seen previously. This could be due to their intentional ambiguity, boundary pushing content or thought-provoking imagery. Other films aspire to be as impactful, filling their runtime with over-stylised scenes demanding attention like a screaming child. We Are The Flesh is the latter, but it so, so desperately wants to be taken seriously.
The plot, such as it is, revolves around a pair of siblings stumbling into an abandoned building occupied by a “visionary” troll-like man. Through emotional manipulation and threat, he forces the siblings to indulge in acts of depravity, supposedly with a higher purpose at stake.
As an exercise in heightened visuals We Are The Flesh is startling, with director Emiliano Rocha Minter constantly challenging his audience, daring them to turn away from the macabre kaleidoscope of brutality he has put on film. Incest, sexual abuse, insanity and extreme violence all feature as the destructive threesome lurch from one quasi-religious horror to the next, all set against a palette of bloody colours. Minter clearly has an eye for bold expression, as barely a moment passes without something truly “memorable” taking place.
The problem is that We Are The Flesh is so pretentiously overbearing in nature, figuratively sniffing its nose at anyone either confused or troubled by the content, before moving on to the next unfathomably ambiguous moment. Nothing at all makes any sense, and filling the time with more and more sexual depravity quickly creates a sense of frustration rather than the shock that you presume is the filmmaker’s intention. In many ways, this all feels like a missed opportunity. Minter has talent, but allowing his film to wander aimlessly towards its conclusion feels overtly arrogant.
There are questions to which no answer arrives: is Minter offering comment on the dark shadows that exit at the borders of today’s society? Is he alluding to repressed sexuality we keep hidden in our subconscious? Who knows? And sadly, by the film’s conclusion you are unlikely to care.
There is no doubt that if you make it to the end, We Are The Flesh is a film you will remember for a long time, if only in the forlorn hope of making some sense from the barbarism you have witnessed. It is likely Minter’s creation will garner a reputation among dedicated genre audiences, becoming a film spoken about in whispers with many too embarrassed to admit favouring it in fear of being forced to explain exactly what it is they like. If you do choose to watch it, and we can neither recommend you do or don’t, you have our respectful sympathy and admiration – just be prepared for an uncomfortable experience whatever your preference.
WE ARE THE FLESH / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: EMILIANO ROCHA MINTER / STARRING: NOE HERNÁNDEZ, MARÍA EVOLI, DIEGO GAMALIEL / RELEASE DATE: 13TH FEBRUARY