YOUR FLESH, YOUR CURSE presents a brutally nihilistic take on suffering, trauma, and self-loathing that many people, unfortunately, will hate. Writer/Director Kasper Juhl takes an emotional approach to brutality, forcing the audience to endure abuse and torture throughout the film. Unfortunately, Juhl will lose a good portion of the audience, as his film feels, at times, closer to a depiction of Abu Ghraib, than a typical exploitation film. That said, Juhl rewards a patient audience with a beautifully haunting portrayal of the human condition.
Juhl’s story seemingly presents an exercise in existential nihilism. Our protagonist, Juliet, experiences, or re-experiences, a loop of pain and trauma. However, as Juliet explains, her curse is “our curse,” and, as her guide explains, “death is an illusion.” Thus, Juhl appears far more interested in provoking questions about the nature of existence itself than answering them. YOUR FLESH, YOUR CURSE explores concepts like pain and meaninglessness of existence through a circular–or, at the very least–non-linear narrative. From a story perspective, Juhl’s inaccessible narrative will likely turn away many viewers, but fans of his films (or anyone not put off by a confusing, unexplained sequence of events) can easily disregard this factor and *ahem* “enjoy” their experience of pain and torture.
YOUR FLESH, YOUR CURSE features a relatively unknown cast. More astute viewers will recognize Bill Hutchens (The Human Centipede II and III) in a cameo role. However, relative newcomer Marie-Louise Damgaard magnificently portrays the protagonist, Juliet. Damgaard, along with the rest of the cast, commits 110% to Juhl’s vision. No easy task, considering the extremes demanded from this story. While likely missing the mark on broad appeal, Juhl’s work may end up gaining respect as a filmmaker’s film. Those who respect the process above all will likely end up hypnotized by the long takes, bizarre (but practical) visuals, and eerie score.
Unfortunately, the pacing is simultaneously the best and worst aspect of the film (earning it a dead-center score to reflect the balance of extremes with which viewers will find themselves). The camera lingers, painstakingly so, through seemingly endless long takes. Juhl, drawing out nearly every scene, is as in love with lingering shots as Zack Snyder is with slow motion. IMDb’s trivia page claims that the final shooting script was a mere 15 pages, which is very believable given the drawn-out nature of each scene and the paltry amount of dialogue. An editor could likely cut the runtime in half without dropping a single scene. However, while doing so might give YOUR FLESH, YOUR CURSE more broad appeal, it would completely wreck the mood Juhl so deliberately strives for.
Ultimately, Juhl proves to be a masterful cinematographer, in addition to a powerful director. He executes clearly on a deliberate, not to mention dark, vision. Moreover, he works within his budgetary constraints while delivering a finished product that looks anything but low budget. Juhl possesses a dark, brutal, and, frankly, depressing visual style to go along with a bleak philosophical outlook. Given this combination, I’d personally love to see Juhl take on a future installment of the Hellraiser franchise. Granted, he may have little interest in a mainstream franchise, but the possibilities are fun to consider.
YOUR FLESH, YOUR CURSE will be released on Blu Ray and DVD on May 7, 2018.
Your Flesh, Your Curse [Review]
The slow, deliberate pacing and lack of action and dialogue will turn off a lot of viewers. However, the director succeeds in creating a deliberate, emotionally brutal, and massively depressing mood that will find appeal within a niche audience.