With the current state of the national affairs, it's natural that horror films are becoming a welcome escape for audiences. The past few weeks alone have seen the release of A Cure for Wellness; a sequel to American remake of a Japanese classic Rings; the highly praised, 100% certified fresh Get Out, the all-female directed horror anthology XX, and now, for one night only TOMORROW at the Frida Cinema, Mexican horror film We Are the Flesh.
It's a first for the Frida: no one under 18, period. We Are the Flesh was directed by Emiliano Rocha Minter, and it concerns brother and sister Lucio and Fauna drifting among the ruins of a post-apocalyptic town looking for ways to survive. They find shelter in the makeshift home in an abandoned building inhabited by a strange hermit.
While that description reads a little formulaic— like an updated version of Hansel & Gretel— the series of events that follow ain't. The hermit (Noe Hernandez) puts his new boarders to work on a variety of odd jobs in exchange for shelter and food. But he later commands them to enact a series of perverted fantasies I ain't even gonna name here. Does it earn its 18+ viewer advisory rating? Hell yes—it's a disturbing film. Does such a film have any artistic merit? According to the producer's statement, the film addresses Mexico's debased culture of gore and sex fed by narco wars and long-running tabloid media like Alarma, which had long sensationalized the darkest of human behavior with its explicit crime scene photography and nudie shots until closing its magazine in 2014 (although the television show continues).
"Since its inception, Mexico has never left its place among the ruins. From the smoking remains of Aztec temples, to the scorched bodies of the faceless victims of the drug war, Mexico has always existed in the aftermath of some apocalypse or another. The post-apocalyptic scenario Emiliano has chosen for his epic is so natural to this country that it is indistinguishable from everyday life. Critical foreign viewers have asked us to expand on the context of the film, because they can't imagine just how close present day Mexico is to a post apocalyptic nightmare."
—Excerpt from We Are the Flesh Producer Statement
So, in other words, the film takes place in a wasteland environment not far removed from the current-day state of Mexico, upheld by [SPOILER ALERT] the film's ending taking place in modern downtown Mexico, leaving the viewer to wonder whether a new civilization has been ushered in or if the world had been thrust into a literal apocalypse at all.
We Are the Flesh makes use of its brilliant production design and sound engineering. The cavernous, claustrophobic home of the malevolent hermit looks like a visual interpretation of Hell, akin to Coffin Joe's fiery hell sequence in 1967's This Night I'll Possess Your Corpse (even the color cinematography looks similar). Hernandez's devilish facial features and show-stealing monologues on solitude and insomnia are creepy AF. And the incredible sound design brings upon the sense of dread and foreboding for what comes next.
With every new act of perversion, Lucio and Fauna descend deeper and deeper into madness, making for a film from which is hard to look away [I say this with all sincerity— I just couldn't pause my screener copy until I discovered what happened next]. Polarizing as it may be, accolades from the likes of Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu and Alfonso Cuaron are many for its political undertones underneath all the demented lust and morbidity. We Are the Flesh will likely find its place among the canon of twisted art films like Salo, Oldboy, A Serbian Film, Enter the Void and Dogtooth for its exploration of the dark side of human nature, leveled by a vague plot line that leaves much to the imagination.
Your one chance to see this film locally is Saturday night at 10pm, presented in Spanish with English subtitles. Again, no one under 18 will be permitted to see this flick— although 18+ year olds might have a hard time seeing it, too. Approach with caution! And maybe with some popcorn! Peep the trailer below and see if your curiosity can stand to wait to watch what happens until showtime. See you at the movies!
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We Are the Fleshplays the Frida Cinema Saturday night at 10p.m. For tickets and information, go to thefridacinema.org. No one under 18 permitted.