19th Mar2018

Starburst Festival 2018: ‘Your Flesh Your Curse’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Marie-Louise Damgaard Nielsen, Rose Milling, Louise Gammelgaard, Bill Hutchens, Kim Sønderholm, Frederik Carlsen, Emma Nymann, Paw Terndrup | Written and Directed by Kasper Juhl

YOUR-FLESH-YOUR-CURSE-poster

When young drug addict Juliet White dies, she doesn’t find herself in hell but somewhere far worse. Forced to relive the traumas and abuse of her days on earth, guided by a mysterious masked figure, Juliet must not only endure but find something new in her suffering.

Take the characters and general milieu from Shane Ryan’s My Name is A by Anonymous, throw in some psychosexual imagery and general sleaze as seen in the likes of Dustin Mills’ work, then mix in a melancholic, melodramatic soundtrack and declare yourself as the next Lars Von Trier and you have Your Flesh Your Curse - a film that spends its entire runtime trying to tell the audience that womens “flesh” is their curse. As in because you’re attractive be prepared to have a shit life… In this case it’s a curse that will see them raped, tortured, killed and overall degraded to the point of humiliation; and all at the hands of men.

Yeah, way to make a transgressive film there!

Director Kasper Juhl seems to think that the kind of mouth pulling, face-slapping scenes found in the sleazier end of porn makes for compelling storytelling. It doesn’t. It just looks like you’ve watched a LOT of that kind of porn and get off on it. So much so you wanted to make some for yourself without stooping so low as to degrade yourself by actually making porn – but hey whilst you won’t stoop so low as to degrade yourself, you’re more than happy to degrade your female cast… that’s fine right?

Talk about overblown and overwrought. Your Flesh Your Curse jumps from scene to scene, to porn-esque torture montage to drug-taking montage without so much as a care for narrative cohesion. All set to a soundtrack that never lets up, playing out as if we’re seeing stunning, revelatory imagery, when what the audience is presented with is anything but. Instead it’s a mish-mash of ideas and themes we’ve seen plenty of times before, going as far back as the likes of the August Underground films… Films which actually pushed the extreme horror envelope, not acted like they did.

It doesn’t help that Your Flesh Your Curse is troublesome. Hell, I like extreme horror as much as the next guy but when you have a character go from overdosing then being raped and murdered in a field… then reliving the same attack, Groundhog Day style, but ASKING for it this time – with a ridiculous revelation that this time she feels love for her attacked instead of fear? Well you completely lose me.

Plus Juhl seems to think his final revelation – the very title of the film – is some kind of wondrous thing to behold. It’s not. It’s dated thinking that only shows how far out of whack the thinking behind Your Flesh Your Curse is. The notion idea that Juliet is ALL the women featured in the film (think of the “royal we”) and that all women suffer the same fate as her simply because they are women, because they are vulnerable and weak, is the very antithesis of modern thinking. Which puts Juhl’s film on the backfoot from the get-go.

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