There are certain movies you don’t watch for enjoyment. On the contrary, there are movies you watch as a form of self-inflicted punishment, visual masochism meant to get a reaction from a place deep inside you which other films don’t bother seeking.
Your Flesh, Your Curse is one of those films, and it will invariably depress the hell out of you.
Not that depression is always a bad thing. If you’ve seen any of Kasper Juhl’s previous works, you know you’re risking your mental health as soon as you hit ‘Play.’ But you hit that button anyway, because you’re sick of seeing the same types of artsty-fartsy horror films over and over and over again, world without end. You want something different, something truly shocking that will make you feel something.
In a way, you have something in common with Juliet White, the film’s protagonist. She’s a young girl, maybe in her early 20s, but she’s had an absolutely terrible life. As a child, her father forced her into sexual role playing while picking her up from school, and in the interest of her own safety, she forced herself to become numb to her inner turmoil as she continually played along. Her whole life is numbness; she parties with friends, laughs, does drugs, and prostitutes herself out to anyone with money, but she no longer feels anything. As Jane’s Addiction would say, nothing’s shocking anymore.
But then one day, after nearly dying from a drug overdose, a passerby finds her unconscious body, and he rapes her while she sleeps and then slits her throat when she wakes up mid-act. This is, however unlikely, where her path to fulfillment begins.
Death has a few lessons to teach Juliet, and most of these lessons involve degradation and pain, re-awakening the part of her that feels shame and humiliation. It’s hard not to see the relationship between Juliet and Death as an allegory; in a way, he’s her Romeo, seeking to be near her and fulfill her despite the terrible pain involved.
I won’t drone on for too long about the plot, because this isn’t a Wikipedia entry. I will say that the movie is beautiful in a way that rivals Lars von Trier’s best works. Even the scenes that are difficult to watch are shot with such attention to aesthetics that you want to re-watch them a few times. There’s also the brilliant performance from Marie-Louise Damgaard Nielsen, who plays Juliet.
You might feel a bit icky for enjoying anything about this movie, but maybe that says more about you than it does about the film. Personally, I loved it. It’s one of the few horror movies that managed to shock me in a way that had me still thinking about it a week later, turning a few of the extra-visceral scenes around in my mind and trying to pick apart what it all means.
Your Flesh, Your Curse is in a league of its own, and I look forward to seeing more from auteur Kasper Juhl.