We Are the Flesh, writer/director Emiliano Rocha Minter‘s debut feature, is the film equivalent of being all dressed up with nowhere to go. The film follows two siblings in a post-apocalyptic world who are wandering around a ruined city in search of food and shelter. After forcing their way into one of the last remaining buildings, they find a mysterious man who offers the shelter they seek in exchange for seeing their darkest fantasies come to life. What follows is a sloppy, nonsensical horror film that aims to be smarter than its audience and completely forgets to resemble anything close to “scary.”
We Are the Flesh, criticism intact, is a film that starts off relatively strong. Director Minter masterfully builds an unbearably thick, dark atmosphere in the opening minutes- though that tone is rendered useless when the film slips into “what the hell am I watching?” territory. In addition to the flashes of tone control, Minter proves to have an impeccable eye for visuals, and that’s something even I can appreciate. There is also praise to be heaped among the film’s core three actors, particularly Noé Hernández as the mysterious man, who he plays as an unhinged maniac with a grin that’ll raise the hair on your arms, and María Evoli as the ever-depraved female sibling. If there’s anything that presents this film as the slightest bit tolerable, it’s now been discussed.
This is a film that’s not only bad, but infuriating when you consider the potential of the opening. We Are the Flesh takes a hard, incredibly weird nosedive however, purely aiming to shock audiences with graphic masturbation, incest, necrophilia, and a genitalia-as-art approach. There is a severe lack of substance throughout as these “shocking” sequences play one after the other in surreal fashion, which in turn makes the (barely) 80-minute runtime feel at least an hour longer. It’s almost as if someone wrote “things that would be disturbing” at the top of a whiteboard and continued to list said things, all the while forgetting (or just not caring) to form a cohesive story that makes any sort of sense. If there’s an underlying metaphor for what’s happening on screen, it was lost on me in this particular case, but honestly, I wouldn’t like this film much better even had I caught on.
Though We Are the Flesh is a huge miss for me, that’s not to say that Emiliano Rocha Minter is a lackluster filmmaker. There is enough beautiful work behind the camera that merits excitement for any future endeavors he may have. The actors, too, perform well and are better than the movie their characters exist within. Unfortunately, these things cannot save Minter’s film from being deemed anything other than a mess. We Are the Flesh is the rare festival darling that I cannot in good conscience recommend to anyone.