Remember the first time you saw a film that just sucked the wind out of your gut? I’m talking about films like Pasolini’s Salo or Noe’s Irreversible. We Are the Flesh (Tenemos la carne) is the most effed-up film since the last most effed-up film.
Certainly, I not trying to put We Are the Flesh on the same pedestal as the previously mentioned films, but as a metaphor for Christianity and its rituals, not to mention the events about to happened politically over the next couple of days, it’s as important a film as any you could watch this weekend.
Going into We Are the Flesh you almost expect a gore fest, seeing as the title, in both English and Spanish, alludes to some sort of rite of passage involving self-consumption. What materializes however is that the gore element feels downplayed and the sexual explicitness gets jacked up to eleven.
We Are the Flesh unwinds like a grim fairy tale. Events are surreal (to say the least) and the narrative feels allegorical rather than based in reality. A brother and sister take refuge in a seemingly abandoned house only to find themselves prisoners, both physically and psychologically, of a weird old man. I’m afraid to watch this film twice, but if I did it would be to figure out if the father figure represents evil or God, or maybe like Abraxas, both.
The trio starts eliminating all right angles in the old house by taping over the surfaces of the walls until the entire interior looks like a cave. The old man coerces the brother and sister into having sex. This is a Brown Bunny level of sexual display, and one that is exceeded by coupling, masturbation and a particularly gruesome use of menses.
At this point you figure that first-time filmmaker Emiliano Rocha Minter has run out of ideas only to discover that he has a whole bag of tricks ready to unload on the viewer.