We Are The Flesh – “The spirit doesn’t reside within the flesh; The spirit is the flesh!”

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History is littered with questions as to the validity of extremism in art and media. Traditional English-speaking sensibilities all but protect us from the taboo-destroying underground world of experimental cinema, a place until now reserved for those who were prepared for a deep-dive into their local video rental store or, more recently, the internet. That being said, if I see that a horror film originated in the likes of France, Japan or Korea, to name a few, I know I may be in for a bit of a ride. At least I could be about to see something I had, through cultural linearity, never seen before. When I discovered Arrow Video’s release of We Are The Flesh (2016) promising an extreme and uninhibited French-Mexican horror experience, I was cautiously optimistic. 

Written and directed by Emiliano Rocha Minter, it’s a gleefully depraved slice of post-apocalyptic experimentalism. Beginning with a brother and sister (played by Diego Galamiel and María Evoli, respectively) discovering the makeshift lair of a primitive loner (Noé Hernández) after wandering a seemingly ruined city for ‘days’, the loner offers them refuge under his own, as of yet unknown conditions. Before long the ethos of this energetic stanger has leached fully into their minds, as well as our own, and from here We Are The Flesh consistently ups the ante until we’re sure we’ve seen it all. Displaying shockingly brash instances of sex, torture, murder and cannibalism, one would be forgiven for assuming that this is simply another exercise in shock horror and likely deserves the dreaded ‘Torture-Porn’ moniker. 

What Genre is We Are the Flesh?

The fact is, Minter’s directorial feature debut is far too intelligent to fall into such derogatory categories. The full commitment to its views, monologued with gusto by Hernández, completely backs the primordial hedonism to follow. As he bangs his drum and screams of deep phenomenology and the freedom of primitive chaos, viewers can’t help but be sucked into his words, nodding along and cheering for things that would have otherwise disgusted them. The core themes of his diatribes being isolation and the liberation it has afforded him, these matters could not be more apt for times like these. Rather than condemn his seclusion, he describes its effects with violently joyous energy. He speaks lovingly of mankind’s dual and savage nature as beasts who only suppress their most ancient of instincts, urging his new acquaintances to do away with the thin frameworks of moral decency that only other people held in front of them.  

“The spirit doesn’t reside within the flesh; The spirit is the flesh!”

The storytelling is vague and often confusing. The destruction of the outside world is only hinted at by the state of the converted apartment block the characters reside in. Many elements are implied and only fall into place in the final moments leading to an ending that makes any right-minded viewer question everything they have seen, their own values, and likely those of the entire human race. This is the essence of experimental horror.

Shock or Thought Provoking Imagery, Maybe Both?

We are the flesh horror movie poster featuring a person in a war helmet and tank top

We Are The Flesh left a hell of an impression on me; the type you sit and ponder for a time, probably long after the credits roll. While a lot of people won’t make it to that point, and some may even react negatively at being shown such an uncompromising film. But that’s where the true point of cinema like this lies, for me anyway. If someone becomes joyous or angry or upset at what they see then they’re making a decision on it; for better or worse it has made them think. Either we reject the new and strange ideas being shown to us or we embrace them for all of their gleeful depravity. These long, unbroken scenes of increasingly bizarre, deviant sex and violence will unnerve even seasoned horror fans and, elite as it may sound, only those with the capacity and intent to soak in the true meanings behind the insanity will gain anything from their viewing. If Hernández chanting, flapping his arms like a bird and appearing like something between Gollum and Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet (1986) doesn’t spark at some primitive charge in your brain then what follows will only deepen your confusion. 

Through focused cinematography, blistering intelligence and chilling commitment to performances, We Are The Flesh is one of the finer experimental horror films I have subjected myself to. While appreciators of this type of art remain in the few, this is one of the more accomplished pieces of work that could take its shameless style to a wider audience. That being said, I won’t be recommending it to any family members. 

Sacrifice – Lovecraftian Inspired

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Sacrifice (2021) (originally titled The Colour of Madness) is the sophomore effort of directors Andy Collier and Toor Mian, adapted by Paul Kane’s folk-horror novelette, Men Of The Cloth. Inspired heavily by the monstrous mythology of HP Lovecraft and, while not without its merits, frequently struggles to break through the earth’s-mantle barrier which limits most, if not all screen translations of cosmic horror

Sacrifice cosmic horror movie poster featuring a woman with a hood and people with torches

Young couple Emma (Sophie Stevens) and Isaac (Ludovic Hughes) return to Isaac’s Norwegian family home after a twenty-five year absence. The townspeople, including their sprightly sheriff played by horror heavyweight Barbara Crampton (of such masterpieces as Re-Animator (1985) and From Beyond (1986)), become increasingly familiar with Isaac as strange and terrible secrets about his family’s history unfold. In no time at all (from the first thirty seconds of the trailer in fact) we learn that the uncanny Norwegian folk worship an entity that early-horror aficionados will recognise as none other than Cthulhu himself. 

Having never read the source material, I was more than ready to enjoy an atmospheric horror with the A24-feel and Lovecraftian overtones the trailer hinted towards. In a sense I got what I wanted, though by the credits I had realised that in terms of ingredients I need a lot more than just those things. Sacrifice’s story unfolds through a series of meandering conversations and repetitive dream sequences that reduce its slow-burn to a dying spark of infrequent, moderately effective chills. True effort is shown by the handful of actors attempting to keep an ironically shallow script afloat as scene after scene of derivative half-scares trickle by, the surprise climaxes of which are likely to have dawned on you moments before they happen.

Conceptually this is my type of film, and there are elements here to enjoy. Isaac’s growing obsession with the cultish townsfolk and their customs is a great angle and offers some interesting visual and psychological ideas to be employed, even if he began to border on cartoonishly arrogant in the final act. Inspiration being taken heavily from Lovecraft’s work allowed some tantalising points regarding science, religion and cultism to be explored, though again not quite to the extent that might satiate true ‘intronauts’. These pondering breaks still offer enough intrigue to keep viewers guessing up until the climactic turnaround. Sacrifice’s ending is fun, though nothing too thought-provoking, and features a quietly effective final shot that would have been all the more powerful had I not seen an almost identical one in 2017’s Hagazussa.

Sacrifice offers some sharp and vividly colourful imagery aided by striking views and focused cinematography. While the editing can be erratic in places, and some instances of coloured lighting feel less purposeful than their inspirational counterparts, the film’s overall aesthetic does warrant the majority of its artistic choices. The lake itself is vast and ominous and many lines uttered by its worshippers are devilishly thought-provoking. The finished product sadly feels underdeveloped, had it not repeatedly fallen into the same handful of formulaic choices over its brief runtime, I’m convinced Sacrifice could have been an effective psychological horror about obsession with the deep, dark and unknown. 

Is Jeepers Creepers Based on a True Story?

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Is Jeepers Creepers all fiction, or could it be that there was some true story inspiration for such a terrifying opening, not to mention the bloody events that follow?

Victor Salva’s millennial cult classic Jeepers Creepers (2001) was an important film in the lives of many budding horror fans. Its story of a brother and sister’s road trip crossing paths with the twisted and deadly Creeper captivated audiences in its day. Though packed with genre clichés and predictable cheese, the film features one of the more imaginative and effectively chilling openings of the 2000s; a long and sparse shot of a rural stretch of road where an increasingly menacing-looking van approaches our protagonists’ car. While the rest of the flick doesn’t quite retain the nail-biting tension offered here, Jeepers Creepers still remains a fun and gory horror outing for nostalgic or less-demanding viewers.

The Horrific Story of Dennis DePue

Dennis and Marilynn DePue


Here we introduce Dennis DePue, a disturbed murderer and a direct influence on the character of the Creeper himself. Dennis’ story, and that of his wife Marilynn and their three children, follows unsettlingly similar beats to that of Salva’s 2001 pseudo-slasher, though the reality is far more horrifying than any fictional, bat-winged killer scarecrow could hope to be.

Marilynn had many, many opportunities to treat me fairly during this divorce, but she chose to string it out, trick me, lie to me. And when you lose your wife, children, and home, there’s not much left. I was too old to start over.

Dennis DuPue

Following building tensions on an already tense marriage, forty-six-year-old Dennis DePue had murdered his forty-eight-year-old wife Marilynn earlier that day, beating and pushing her down a flight of stairs, as reports go. He carried her body to the car, telling their children that he was taking her to the hospital. They never saw her again. her body found by an eerie old school bus also ties back to Jeepers Creepers as it is similar how the creeper stores his bodies.

DePue was found only when his story aired on Unsolved Mysteries. Having changed his name and attracting a new girlfriend, Mary, DePue was living happily as Hank when his story was made public. After he disappeared and Mary discovered who he really was, she contacted the police immediately and DePue was located within just four hours. After firing a couple of warning shots at approaching officers, DePue then turned the gun on himself, thus ending the grim saga.

Comparing the intro to DePue’s Story

AndersYdna on youtube got creative and spliced together the intro from Jeepers Creepers and the Unsolved Mysteries story about Dennis DePue to show the similarities. It’s a quick 10 min watch.

The Thornton’s True Story Inspiration

April 15th, 1990. A couple, Ray and Marie Thornton, set off on their weekly routine of a peaceful country drive outside of Coldwater, Michigan. Little did they know that their usual Sunday tradition would this week land them in the centre of a horrific and bloody mystery. As they drove south on Snow Prairie Road a strange van revved loudly from behind as it sped past them. Marie noticed that the van’s license plate began with “GZ”, exclaiming, “jeez, he’s really in a hurry”.

Some miles down the road, the Thorntons passed an old schoolhouse where they saw the mystery van a second time. The van was parked between the school and a huge tank, and its driver was carrying a blood-soaked blanket across the grounds. Not long after this, the now-clearly-dangerous stranger was behind them once more, this time tailgating them within inches for at least two miles. As Ray pulled off the highway, the van parked itself at the side of the road and the bold Thorntons decided to swing back in an attempt to see the rest of its license plate. When the mystery driver was seen changing his license plate, the Thorntons decided to head back to the schoolhouse where they found the bloodied blanket partly stuffed into a rabbit hole. They immediately went to the police.

Jeepers Creepers Film poster featuring a scary eye peeking through a sack

Is Jeepers Creepers Based on a True Story?

While many Jeepers Creeper fans will see a lot of similarities between what the brave Thorntons did (and saw) that day and the establishing minutes of Jeepers Creepers, the reality is no less harrowing than Salva’s reimagining. Although DuPue seems to have a direct influence on the Creeper it does not appear to be based purely on him.

https://unsolvedmysteries.fandom.com/wiki/Dennis_DePue
https://www.truecrimeedition.com/post/dennis-depue
https://reallifevillains.miraheze.org/wiki/Dennis_DePue

Possessor – Your Actions Are Not Your Own

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Possessor is the new horror film exercise in psychological science-horror from Brandon Cronenberg, son of David ‘The Baron of Blood’ Cronenberg himself. For those who don’t know, The Baron brought us such shockers as Scanners, The Fly, Videodrome and an adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dead Zone in the 80s, as well as the deeply unsettling The Brood in 1979. His work with gore and outlandish practical effects earned him a legendary status in the world of horror, and if Possessor is anything to go by, his son is taking the baton with heavy enthusiasm and a deft hand. 

Have you ever felt that your actions are not entirely your own?

Possessor is Brandon Cronenebergs debut feature film, following a slew of surreal shorts such as 2019’s Please Speak Continuously and Describe Your Experiences as They Come to You, and hopefully serves as a first real look at a bright directorial future. With skills like these, it would seem a waste not to.

Visually, the film is stunning. The vibrant colour palettes and psychedelic slow-mo sequences remind me heavily of Panos Cosmatos, which can only ever be a good thing, and fit perfectly with the stark, often expressionist imagery used to depict strange conceptual mental processes to a high artistic degree. The cinematography by Karim Hussain feels alive yet purposeful, only intending the greatest effect for each scene. The settings in which these scenes play out feel gritty and earthly which works alongside the light sci-fi themes to give proceedings a rough, nasty edge. This edge is sharpened to its apex by the violence itself, which is where Possessor derives a good deal of its horror. 

It looks downright horrific in places. Whereas more high-concept sci-fi commonly employs computer-generated violence and gore, a lot of the time among a computer-generated background, Possessor makes heavy use of practical effects to create a borderline grindhouse feel, it’s sudden acts of realistic, disturbing and brutally savage violence bringing the gut-dropping style of Craig Zahler in films such as Brawl in Cell Block 99, though to a more refined degree. 

possessor horror movie poster featuring a screaming woman

Possessor’s dreamy synth score by Jim Williams perfectly compliments each scene it is needed, often lurking in the background to invoke greater dread from it’s slow-burning second act while sometimes swelling and exploding to punctuate the more abstract happenings for greater meaning and impact. It fully expands on the film’s hallucinatory sci-fi atmosphere, while sickening sound effects boost each savage kill to its full effect. 

Being more on the light, conceptual sci-fi end of the spectrum, Possessor’s character-based plot relies heavily on its actors and aesthetic, using it’s basis of ‘entering the mind of other people to carry out covert kills’ as a vehicle for its own nasty, nihilistic take on a character arc. Some warm, believably human elements are at play, making the overlaying ethos and point of the film all the more disturbing. Its squirming, corrupt nature is reminiscent of Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer, though omitting its self-aware winks for an even darker, more consequential message. This style of film benefits greatly for the thematic blend on show here, looking back at science-horror precursors such as Harlan Ellison’s short story I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream where ideas of humanity are irreverently twisted and spat at in place of a colder logic, a darker horror. 

Possessor plays with themes of consciousness, though never becomes self indulgent when doing so. It uses these themes to further its artistic vision, with some psychologically internal sequences playing out like music videos. The pacing of the film bleeds intent as a slow burner punctuated with sudden hyper-violence, this coupled with the sharp and meticulous visuals giving the finished product a very ‘A24’ feel.

Possessor is meditative and clever. It won’t hold your hand with pointless exposition, nor will it try to confuse you with arrogant sci-fi contrivances. It is a skillfully executed offering of disturbing cerebral horror and I for one hope to see much more from the Cronenberg name. Long live the new flesh.

A Common Crime – Psychological Thriller

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A Common Crime (2021) is the new Argentinian psychological thriller with supernatural elements from director Francisco Márquez. Having not seen his directorial debut The Long Night of Francisco Sanctis (2016), I went into this piece relatively blind, albeit interested in the Argentine perspective of what a grounded horror/thriller should be. What I didn’t expect was that the film might reignite memories of one of my favorite, though sadly most neglected, directors.

From its opening scenes A Common Crime permeates a sparse realism that, while inducing a mild anxiety, also for me echoes the subtle and meticulous stylings of Austrian virtuoso Michael Haneke. With majority diegetic sound and very little music, viewers are made to feel a part of the world they are watching, that is if they can get past the apparent ‘slowness’ that it shares with Haneke’s work. Long, rigorous camera takes allow each scene and the performances within them to breathe, and the result is absolutely hypnotic. 

The plot is simple enough; sociology teacher Cecilia (Elisa Carricajo) has a maid whose son is constantly harassed by the police. One night Cecilia awakens to the boy knocking frantically at her door. Fear takes over and she merely hides in the shadows as some vague struggle seems to occur. When the boy shows up dead the next day Cecilia is plunged into a personal hell of paranoia and self-blame. Clear and definite themes of guilt and grief are explored within the tight, oddly-claustrophobic framing of Márquez’s world. Subtlety and detail are offered in bucketloads, along with a surprising amount of atmosphere from such a dark and restrained story.

That being said, this is no by-the-numbers thriller. Borderline experimental in presentation, you’d honestly be forgiven for growing tired of the repetitive psychological episodes A Common Crime descends into, or at least for hoping for some kind of payoff at the end of it all. That expectation came to me from repeated past viewings of Haneke’s beautifully bland stylings which almost always involved some kind of heavy shock punishment for letting his work seep into you. While trying to navigate the minefield of spoiler-free reviewing I can only say I was left with a confused, perhaps a little concerned, expression as the credits began to roll on this one. It took until the ending for me to realise that A Common Crime was nothing like I had expected. This is, on the one hand, a testament to its mesmerising nature, though that nature was primarily the thing which left me feeling lost on more than one occasion. 

A Common Crime movie poster featuring a woman screaming

Rather than make a full-blown psychological horror, Márquez shows a lot of discipline and moderation. A Common Crime sticks to it’s drama-fuelled thriller territory while using classic horror tools to enrich the presentation of its story. While most scares are longer-running and based around reactions, any up-front chills attack within enough space to enhance their effect. Even the score felt more dreamy than dread-inducing. That being said, the parts come together quite effectively as a whole. The unease I felt during its run time did reach that of films such as Hagazussa (2017) and Krisha (2015), as it relies more on its commitment to an uncanny feeling of irregularity that admirably holds up to the very end. 

A Common Crime is an honest, bold and intellectual drama which teeters on thriller territory in plot alone. Keeping enough to its chest to allow its mystery to envelop the viewer, it thrives in its own quiet world with barely an enhancement from clever editing or sound tricks, which in itself is an accomplishment. It may not be quite what you’re looking for, but give it time to sink in and you’ll be wanting more like it in a heartbeat.

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