Have you ever been awakened in the middle of the night by something, like a mysterious thud, but you only partially regained consciousness? If you have never experienced this, it’s basically like a waking dream: you are only vaguely aware that you are still half asleep, therefore everything you see and hear while in that state has an almost mystical quality…and yet the whole experience doesn’t make much sense when you try to process it the next day.
This semi-conscious state is exactly the way you’ll feel when you watch WE ARE THE FLESH. This surrealistic film is a weird journey into the bizarre, yet it is so visually arresting, it’s hard to look away from it. I will admit I’ve been trying to wrap my brain around the film since it ended, and I am still not sure what I saw. But was I entertained? Well, yes and no. I’ll explain in a moment. But one thing’s for sure: WE ARE THE FLESH is a definite eye-grabber, and it might just make you question your own sanity!
If you are not familiar with WE ARE THE FLESH, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Arrow Video & MVD Distribution:
A visionary and bizarre slice of Mexican arthouse cinema, We Are the Flesh is an extraordinary and unsettling film experience, a sexually charged and nightmarish journey into an otherworldly dimension of carnal desire and excess, as well as a powerful allegory on the corrupting power of human desire.
A young brother and sister, roaming an apocalyptic city, take refuge in the dilapidated lair of a strange hermit. He puts them to work building a bizarre cavernous structure, where he acts out his insane and depraved fantasies. Trapped in this maddening womb-like world under his malign influence, they find themselves sinking into the realms of dark and forbidden behavior.
Mixing the graphic, powerful imagery of Gaspar Noe s Love and Enter the Void with the surreal, hallucinatory impact of Alejandro Jodorowsky, We Are the Flesh is a bizarre, psychedelic head trip, mixing intense, outrageously explicit imagery with a profound allegory on the nature of existence, to make this an unforgettable, boundary-pushing experience unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
By now, you’re probably wondering if I actually enjoyed this film. The answer is yes, as a whole. But there are several elements about it that I did not like. For example, the sexuality aspect. I am not a prude by any means…however I don’t feel like the VERY graphic depictions of sex in this film are necessary. And when I say graphic, I mean it; NOTHING is left to the imagination. I wager many folks would simply label this film as blatant pornography. Personally, I think the film would have had more of an impact if much of what happens was implied instead of shown. But that’s just me.
There’s no denying WE ARE THE FLESH is shot very well and looks mesmerizing onscreen. I’m SO glad Arrow and MVD released this on Blu-ray, as HD is the only way to truly capture the imagery within the film. I particularly love the scenes inside the cave-like structure. Once it is complete, the set takes on a life of its own. The resulting scenery is almost magical.
The acting is superb, with Noe Hernandez heading up an excellent (albeit small) cast. Hernandez plays the maniacal Mariano, a guy who is way off his rocker and just charismatic enough to entrance the two siblings to join him. Maria Evoli and Diego Gamaliel play the brother and sister, and both do a phenomenal job, but Hernandez steals the show. Whether he is spouting philosophical gibberish, beating the hell out of a random drum, or simply pleasuring himself at the siblings’ expense, Hernandez appears to relish each activity. I daresay there are few actors who could have done such a perfect job with this role.
The special effects in WE ARE THE FLESH are very good as well. There’s some nice gore, particularly a gut-wrenching throat slashing scene that will make you wince. Also of note is the cave-like structure. I read online that the set was made exclusively for the film, and it looks awesome. I would LOVE to have something like that in my house to crawl around in, although my wife would probably hate it.
But the problems with the film do abound, unfortunately. I already mentioned the gratuitous nature of the sex, but there’s several other issues. The film makes absolutely no sense at all, despite an intriguing start. I found myself wondering many times about Mariano’s motivation: is he Satan? Or is he just some screwed up park-bench philosopher who wants to live vicariously through other people?
Also, I had a hard time believing the siblings would participate in Mariano’s madness. Granted, they were hungry to start with…but I don’t think they would have honestly gone as far as they did with the acts.
And finally, I really don’t like the ending. It’s supposed to be a big surprise reveal, but I was so confused by the time it occurred that it lost any impact it might have had. As a result, it just annoyed me.
But even so, WE ARE THE FLESH is still a stunning film to experience, if anything just to see how much of a fever-dream it is. I’ve only seen a handful of films that made me ask, “What in the hell did I just watch?” but this is now number one on that list. Thankfully, it is interesting enough to hold the viewer’s attention for its short duration (79 minutes), and therefore it is not a burden to sit through overall. Just don’t expect a clear storyline.
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
• 5.1 surround and uncompressed stereo 2.0 audio options
• Optional English subtitles
• A new video essay by critic Virginie Sélavy
• New interviews with director Emiliano Rocha Minter and cast members Noé Hernández, María Evoli and Diego Gamaliel
• Two short films by Emiliano Rocha Minter; Dentro and Videohome
• Theatrical trailer
• Stills gallery
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork
• FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Anton Bitel, and a note from the producer on the film