To belatedly celebrate Thanksgiving, I decided to post a review of a movie that really stuck with me. I watched We Are What We Are months ago but its cannibalistic theme makes a fun seasonal addition to my review blog.
First off, I didn’t realize We Are What We Are (2013) is a remake until I began working on this review. The original version came out in 2010 and was a Mexican release. I don’t know anything of the original, how or if it varies from the 2013 American version, but it may be worth watching.
I’d heard this film mentioned in a few upcoming horror blogs that I follow and was interested in watching it as soon as it came to a convenient format for me. So when the film hit Netflix, I added it to my queue knowing only the premise that cannibalism was involved.
The film begins with the story’s matriarch passing out in a ditch during a torrential downpour. There’s a small-town atmosphere and the local sheriff breaks the news of his wife’s death to Frank, an overbearing father of two teen girls Iris and Rose, and a young son Rory. Frank is too upset to identify the body and sends his teen daughters to town instead.
We soon learn that the family lives in a remote area of the woods and also that the mother was essentially the glue holding things together. The family functions around their extremely deep-rooted traditions. The children are home-schooled, the home is extremely modest with no technology, and the father assumes the role as bread-winner. In the wake of their mother’s death, Frank-an abrasive bear of a man-soon demands Iris and Rose fulfill the role of the homemaker, including all the grisly-and occasionally implied-details that go with the territory.
As the story progresses, we see the sheriff conducting a investigation of the case, including an autopsy of the mom, researching her condition, and also interrogating the family. Things are personal for the sheriff because his own daughter went missing in the area, adding to the laundry list of other missing teens.
And that’s where I will end my summary as I don’t want to spoil too much here for those who are interested in experiencing the film on their own. There is a lot more going on than I described, various layers of the plot, however for me, part of the intensity of this film was seeing those first-hand.
I really enjoyed We Are What We Are. It’s a smart, tense, and unique movie that has subtle yet gruesome developments. The actresses who play the teen daughters, Ambyr Childers and Julia Garner did a great job and really carried the film. Plot-wise, the story is really rich and I’d love to see some literary criticism of all the subtexts and nuances buried within the plot.
My main annoyances with the movie are more personal. I’m a medical librarian and some of the research doesn’t hold up but hey, it’s a movie so I can forgive that.
If you’re looking for something smart and different that will get under your skin, I highly recommend We Are What We Are.
Pros: tense, good build up and character development, great acting, psychological
Cons: slow-paced, not necessarily in your face horror, subtle, a little predictable
Mash-up Status: The atmosphere and pacing remind me a bit of Stoker (2013) with the same uneasy father feelings as Frailty (2001). I’ve seen some compare this to The Hamiltons (2006) but since I haven’t yet seen The Hamiltons I can’t say so myself.