As we close in on October 31, AiPT! will be reviewing and recommending various pieces of underappreciated scary media–books, comics, movies, and television–to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.
There is a thick line in movies between what is genuinely shocking and what is merely meant to illicit a reaction. On one hand, the audience is treated to immersive scenes that stimulate emotions, while on the other the audience witnesses events that leave little lasting impression. Released in 2016, We are the Flesh somehow manages to blur this line with unsurprisingly mixed results.
We are the Flesh is a Mexican post-apocalyptic horror film released in 2016. Mariano is a mysterious man who lives by himself and is seemingly insane. Lucio and his sister Fauna break into Mariano’s home while looking for food. What follows is a transgressive film that explores sexual maturity, life, humanity, and social taboos.
Noe Hernandez is excellent in his role as Mariano. Mariano is a trickster, manipulator, and corruptor. In short, he is the Devil. Mariano has a gleefully evil smile and eyes that seem to stare through you, but it is through facial expressions, body movements, and speech patterns that Hernandez conveys just how sinister the character is. The emotional torture that he puts Lucio and Fauna through is disturbing. He entraps then berates them and has the two do horrible things to each other while he watches. He mocks Lucio’s role as the protective big brother while also trying to coerce him to defile her. It is a great performance.
Director Emilano Rocha Minter chooses to let the camera linger on shots throughout the movie. It is clear Minter is aiming to shock, but instead these moments come off as gratuitous. Even worse, the lack of subtlety cheapens the beauty of other moments in the movie. The use of color is inspired. There are many shots in an reddish orange hue that evoke thoughts of death and rebirth. Shades of blue and purple add to the overall uncertainty. The ending shots of the movie are also a perfect contrast to the rest of the movie.
Much like the rest of the film, the use of symbolism has its strengths and weaknesses. The cave/bunker built by Lucio, Fauna, and Mariano looks like a diagram of birth canal found in medical text books. It is in this “womb” that the two siblings mature. If and when they come out, it is apparent they will no longer be children. Unfortunately, there are also numerous (possibly unsimulated) sex scenes, endless shots of penises and vaginas and an odd scene that seem to have been shot in Predator vision. It all seems like it should mean something but it comes off as directionless.
We are the Flesh is a movie that was purposely written and shot in a way that will provoke different meanings from anyone who watches it. It seems clear that the movie is trying to illustrate the breakdown of humanity and acceptable social taboos in a world that has been destroyed. The twist ending only seems to add to this. Regrettably, what the audience is left with is a movie that will encourage apathy more than discussion.