WE ARE THE FLESH (2017)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 19 minutes

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

(Spanish with English subtitles)

Directed by: Emiliano Rocha Minter

Written by: Emiliano Rocha Minter

Starring: Noe Hernandez, Maria Evoli, Diego Gamaliel & Gabino Rodriguez

WE ARE THE FLESH is a Mexican arthouse shocksploitation flick that I’d been hearing about for quite some time. This film played on the festival circuit and garnered its own hype train before hitting US shores earlier this year. Praise for this movie compared it to the likes of A SERBIAN FILM, while a steady amount of reviews unapologetically trashed it as well. Does it find a spot as a newfound shocksploitation classic? Well, not really. This film is pretentious, over-the-top, and seems to be trying to make a commentary but isn’t quite sure what points it’s trying to make.

In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, Mariano (Noe Hernandez) spends his days making drugs out of chickens, furiously beating a drum, and getting high on his own supply. When siblings Fauna (Maria Evoli) and Lucio (Diego Gamaliel) come across Mariano’s not-so-humble abode, they find a possible shelter from the harsh world…but their newfound home comes with a price. Mariano supplies food, water, and a room, if Fauna and Lucio help him construct a makeshift womb-like structure. After the “womb” is complete, the two siblings find themselves being pressured into dark desires and animalistic acts.

WE ARE THE FLESH is a depraved creation. To list a few of the horrible happenings: incest, necrophilia, consuming menstrual blood, and cannibalism are all contained within this flick. FLESH doesn’t have much of a plot as it does an excuse to showcase all sorts of shocking images and vivid colors. If there’s something that should be praised right out of the gate, it’s that WE ARE THE FLESH looks visually great. There was clearly a lot of thought and care put into the cinematography. The constructed womb is pretty damn cool to look at, even if it becomes the setting for really awful things and lots of wasted time. If you want to appreciate this film purely on visuals and its ballsy nature, you’ll undoubtedly find something to like in this truly strange experience.

If nothing else, Noe Hernandez is perfectly cast in the role of rambling madman Mariano. He’s has an attention-grabbing presence and manages to steal every scene that he’s in. There’s a menacing nature to his character, but you can’t take your eyes off of him. Maria Evoli’s young character seems to represent the follies of youth and has a somewhat baffling story arc that doesn’t really make much sense at all. All the while, Diego Gamaliel stands in the background, looks shocked and worried, and inexplicably joins in on the insane sexual escapades.

Now I must address the negative stuff because WE ARE THE FLESH feels agonizingly long, yet somehow only runs at a scant 79 minutes. The film clearly seems to be attempting to make a statement as Mariano rants and raves at the camera, especially when he’s first admiring the “womb.” There’s also one scene in which three people (one of them a bound victim) break into political song for no apparent reason whatsoever, not to mention long unbroken shots of full-frontal genitalia and borderline pornographic bits of incestuous sex.

WE ARE THE FLESH is a difficult film to review, because it’s more of an experience that will beat down viewers’ emotions, attention spans, and tolerance of shocksploitation exploits. The film also pulls a bizarre switch-up during its final minutes that I thought was genuinely clever, but glacial pacing and the lack of a plot really took this one down for me. Whether you feel that WE ARE THE FLESH is a profoundly disturbing masterpiece or a load of pretentious nonsense, this film is bound to make some sort of impression. I fall on the side that appreciates a couple of aspects (visuals, a last-minute twist) and found my patience tested by the on-and-off pacing. If this movie sounds at all appealing to you, then you might as well give it a watch. However, I simply cannot recommend WE ARE THE FLESH.

Grade: C-