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Review: Mexican art-house horror film ‘We Are the Flesh’ is not for the faint of heart

A scene from the film "We Are the Flesh."
A scene from the film “We Are the Flesh.”
(Arrow Films)

Nothing’s off-limits in writer-director Emiliano Rocha Minter’s “We Are the Flesh,” a gory and sexually explicit art-horror film that’s both a commentary on modern Mexico and an exercise in shock for shock’s sake. Though more likely to appeal to devotees of Carlos Reygadas (who co-produced) and Pier Paolo Pasolini than it will to fright-fans, this is nonetheless a one-of-a-kind nightmare, pungently disgusting.

María Evoli and Diego Gamaliel costar as unnamed homeless siblings, whose scavenging leads them into a crumbling underground lair. They’re taken in by a charismatic sociopath (Noé Hernández), who feeds and shelters them in exchange for their labor — first asking them to construct an elaborate artificial cave, then demanding they have sex with each other for his amusement.

The incest scenes are shown in pornographic detail, which — when combined with the images of butchery, cannibalism and multiple varieties of dripping and spurting bodily fluids — will violently repel many viewers.

It’s also not always clear where the filmmaker’s going with all this. Until the thought-provoking, from-left-field twist ending, “We Are the Flesh” mostly seems like a series of sick tableaux, dredged up from the director’s subconscious and then splattered across the screen.

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But there’s genuine artistry even to this film’s most exploitative moments. Rocha Minter plunges viewers into his own vision of hell, while suggesting that even perdition may be preferable to the world we’re actually in.

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‘We Are the Flesh’

In Spanish with English subtitles

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 17 minutes.

Playing: Ahrya Fine Arts, Beverly Hills

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