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Sebastian’s Unholy Flesh (2020) Review

Sebastian’s Unholy Flesh is the seventh film from writer/director Dakota Ray (Dante’s Shadow of Sin, The Dark Days of Demetrius). And, like his other recent films, it’s a strange, experimental tale of the occult. I’ve liked the three of his films I’ve previously reviewed, will this one continue that streak?

A dimensional shift has killed off Lucifer. Not surprisingly, that has set off something of a power struggle among the denizens of Hell. One demon, Sebastian (Dakota Ray) takes human form in order to get possession of Lucifer’s ancient Unholy Book. That book will give him the power to bring about the end of mankind.

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However, he’s not the only one looking for it. The White Spider (Fred Epstein, The Acid Sorcerer), a serial killer/shaman has allied with another demon Nezaah (Nick Benning, American Scumbags). They plan to get the book and sacrifice Sebastian to the nine demonic gods.

At an hour and twelve minutes, this is the longest film I’ve seen from Dakota Ray, and it may also be the most experimental, falling pretty close to American Antichrist in style. So if you don’t like non-standard, and at times non-narrative films you might want to avoid Sebastian’s Unholy Flesh.

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There’s little or no actual dialogue, just voiceovers of the characters giving monologues. What we hear in these voiceovers is frequently overly dramatic to the point of sounding melodramatic and stilted. The same with the names of the chapters the film is divided into. Titles like “Revelations of the Black Hearted Prince” and “Penetrating Unholy Gateways Made of Flesh” are meant to sound ominous, but come off like song titles from a Black Metal album.

Also on the topic of dialogue, Nezaah’s voice is distorted to give it an otherworldly sound. But it’s not so distorted as to make it impossible, or even all that hard, to understand. Which makes the decision to also have it written out on screen an odd one. It’s unneeded and rather distracting.

The entire film is shot through a purple filter which gives it a strange and unsettling look. The visuals are frequently almost random shots of the moon, candles, skulls etc. There are also lots of visuals meant to be shocking such as someone pissing on a skull, another skull used as an ashtray etc. They certainly help convey the nature of the characters in the film, but their power to shock is somewhat weakened by the lack of a more cohesive script.

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Sebastian’s Unholy Flesh works much better as an exercise in atmosphere than in storytelling. The plot is frequently put aside in favour of visuals that advance the mood but don’t advance the story. The CGI at the end is bad to the point it breaks that mood, though Svetlana Lilith as Lucretia did help to distract my attention from it.

The more you’re into underground and avant-garde films the more you’ll enjoy Sebastian’s Unholy Flesh. Despite my problems with it, I still found it an interesting watch.

Sebastian’s Unholy Flesh is available to order, along with the director’s other films, here. You can check out his Facebook page for more information.

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