2 Nov 2013

'We Are What We Are (2013)' Review

Director: Jim Mickle
Writer: Nick Damici, Jorge Michel Grau
Stars: Bill Sage, Ambyr Childers, Julia Garner
Running Time: 105 mins
Sub-Genre: Thriller, Drama, Cannibal
Release: October 2013

A seemingly wholesome and benevolent family, the Parkers have always kept to themselves, and for good reason. Behind closed doors, patriarch Frank rules his family with a rigorous fervor, determined to keep his ancestral customs intact at any cost. As a torrential rainstorm moves into the area, tragedy strikes and his daughters Iris and Rose are forced to assume responsibilities that extend beyond those of a typical family. As the unrelenting downpour continues to flood their small town, the local authorities begin to uncover clues that bring them closer to the secret that the Parkers have held closely for so many years.

We Are What We Are, originally a Mexican horror, now remade by Jim Mickle hit selected theatres a couple of weeks back, with a showing at Film 4’s Frightfest, and bagging the Best film award at Frightfest plus the very high rating of 86% on Rotten Tomatoes I felt as if I needed to watch this. As expected, We Are What We Are proved to me a strong poetic piece that proved a strong punch within the genre.

Jim Mickle is most notably known for his successful character-driven vampire flick Stake Land, and although I found that patchy and unsuccessful, there were a lot of fantastic elements there. We Are What We Are reeks the same stench Stake Land had, both run on the same style establishing just the type of films Mickle makes; if you weren’t a fan of Stake Land then We Are What We Are shouldn’t please your horror needs. Aside from the superb final act, I myself found this as a somewhat bland take on a lively story; the final outcome proves to be very pleasing but patience is a virtue, and We Are What We Are tests that to a risky extent.

Played with a straight-face, this film ignores the fun the horror genre has been having this year, and plays it all the strongest of intents, delivering a powerful poetic cannibal piece that displays the life of a cannibal family, and although the original was said to be a more fun take on a deep story, Mickle displays a true character-driven piece with a delicate touch of innocence and a mean bite for gore. It’s very sophisticated in its delivery, and although this may not be what the horror genre needs, it’s still something that works, creating a strong impact within the genre, and sub-genres within that; it may be a tale of a dysfunctional family link, but it’s also a mature horror tale of dark macabre.

 Along with the gore lies a clever story with a superb cast and an intelligent taste for cannibalism horror flicks. The central cast are fantastic as presenting the family life of the Parkers, and both Childers and Garner add depth to the what would be a one-dimensional piece, their chemistry makes the belief of sisterly bond more dependable, and there negative approach towards the father, played by Bill Sage who comes across as unconventionally evil; sitting back and letting his daughters do his dirty work has a somewhat frightening feel to it. The touching scene that shows the sisters “making the dinner” is the scene where I knew it was going to get better from then on in, and to my delight I was right. The whole back-story for their doings ties it all up into a neat little bow, and with that final scene it’s hard to forget something that was so truly and disturbingly effective.  Jim Mickle may have missed the mark with Stake Land, but he has gone something exceptional with We Are What We Are.

VERDICT: We Are What We Are may test your patience to a brave extent, but it proves to be a dark and twisted tale of a family with a shaming lust for human flesh, it hits the mark on delivering an effective mature piece with a superb cast and a darkly macabre final act.

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