March 31, 2022 Your Flesh Your Curse (Movie Review)
Part of the fear defining purgatory is not knowing. What comes next? Heaven… or hell? You can’t know until your trial is over. Kasper Juhl’s Your Flesh Your Curse is such a trial. Released on DVD by Bayview Entertainment on Tuesday, March 22, 2022, Juhl’s Your Flesh Your Curse does not just wrap his characters in a world of pain and misery, but also us, the audience.
Juhl (Madness of Many 2013, Moonfire 2018) throws us right into the lives of three aimless young women. One in particular, Juliet (Marie-Louise Damgaard: A God Without a Universe 2015, Neste Sommer series), suffers through a hellish existence already. She makes ends meet through prostitution, she gets high and drinks to cope. Soon she meets an untimely and grisly end where, no, the journey only begins. Your Flesh Your Curse takes the form of Juliet’s almost reincarnation-like test to end her pain.
What does this mean exactly? Hard to say, admittedly. The movie posits an extremely bleak worldview. Juliet’s life is completely miserable whether she is alive or dead here. Alive it is a host of addictions, beatings and abuse. Purgatory is not much better. Indeed, it does not feel much different from hell. Juhl seems intent on crafting a mood of inexorable and absolute despair. The challenge with bringing an audience into this kind of hopeless abyss is you risk inciting appropriately similar feelings within them. If that is your aim, any misstep will allow the audience to check out.
Your Flesh Your Curse is an endurance test. Juhl faces some formidable obstacles, though. It being so complete in its darkness, the intense focus upon the desperate malaise Juliet especially feels ends up undermining the movie itself. Juhl’s choice to regularly let the camera linger reveals more than he wishes. Take for example a moment in purgatory where an unnamed woman tears at her own arms in curiosity. It does not matter how realistic the gore looks. If the camera is trained on it for too long, it just reveals the gore as makeup. The suspension of disbelief itself is tested.
Juhl’s film has multiple moments like this. Lingering too long at different times kills the mystique of the production design and gives the audience too long to think about what is going on when nothing really is. In other words, Juhl compromises the mood he is trying to establish because he gives the audience an opportunity to notice what they are really looking at. It is not wrong to go light on plot, but if you do, you have to take care not give the audience reasons to think about other things besides the lack of plot. It is a shame because Juhl does have a feel for creating oppressive atmosphere.
The other problem comes in the form of the title itself and what seems to be a thematic position. Towards the end, Juliet, who has been narrating her experience, realizes something about her predicament… and that of everyone else who is being tortured in purgatory, all of whom are women too.
Without revealing, it is notable how Juliet changes the title with regards to herself and the other suffering women. It is notable who is not punished throughout the course of the film. If Juhl’s goal here was to make a point about poor treatment of women, which you could do considering who sets off and contributes to Juliet’s chain of events, calling it Your Flesh Your Curse absolutely undermines this. It is like a case of wanting to have your cake and eat it too, especially as there is one particular purgatory scene with a whole lot of nudity whose intentions seem a bit confused.
So that is where we end up. Your Flesh Your Curse is a little too meandering, a little confused. A bit on the edgy side, adolescent even in how it treats its subject matter. A shame, again, because Kasper Juhl does have some chops for building atmosphere. It is a Horror movie that is not very terrifying, just depressing…in more ways than one. That is Cryptic Rock gives Your Flesh Your Curse 1.5 out of 5 stars.