This Mexican horror film, which garnered excellent reports at the Rotterdam Film Festival earlier this year, is screening as part of the East End Film Festival. You can find the full programme here.
To say that Rocha Minter hasn’t made the most polite of debut features is putting it mildly. To borrow a casual understatement from one of its characters: “This is not your average party.” Set almost entirely inside a derelict apartment, “We Are the Flesh” has an ace up its sleeve in lead actor Noe Hernandez (“Sin nombre,” “Miss Bala”), here playing a grotesque so demonically charismatic that the way in which other characters fall under his spell just about feels plausible. Every narrative development in the film — from a young woman (Maria Evoli) dropping to her knees to perform explicitly shot oral sex on her brother (Diego Gamaliel), to a soldier relaxing to the point of near-acquiescence as his throat is slashed and drained into a bucket — is driven by little more than the inscrutable will of Hernandez’s unnamed antagonist.
Enclosed in the womb-like nest of a hellish, rotting apartment, Yollotl Alvarado’s camera becomes the scalpel laying bare the meat of the movie. A thick layer of dirty grease seems to smear every surface, captured in such loving detail that we can almost see the grimy fingerprints. “We Are the Flesh” is also perversely erotic: Sex scenes are shot with frank delight, Alvarado’s lens drinking in the lithe contortions of the extremely game performers, switching in one memorable scene to heat-map imagery as an intense coupling unfolds. Music selections are likewise astute, with a rousing rendition of the Mexican national anthem immediately prior to an extreme bout of bloodletting wickedly foregrounding the inherent violence of its patriotic lyrics. Composer Esteban Aldrete’s score knows when to complement or ironically counter the on-screen action. Perhaps Rocha Minter had Kubrick’s counterintuitively classical selections in “A Clockwork Orange” in mind; it will certainly be a long time before Bach’s lovely Harpsichord Concerto in F Minor is pressed into the service of more outre drama.