We Are What We Are (2013) Movie Review
Written by Karin Crighton
Released by Entertainment One Films US
Directed by Jim Mickle
Written Nick Damici and Jim Mickle
2013, 100 minutes, Rated R
Released on September 27th, 2013
Bill Sage as Frank Parker
Julia Garner as Rose
Ambyr Childers as Iris
Michael Parks as Dr. Barrow
Kelly McGillis as Marge
Perhaps boring is an unfair judgment on a film shot so beautifully with such meticulous attention to detail, but fans of traditional and even cutting edge horror films will find the crawling pace of We Are What We Are a challenge.
Based on the 2010 Mexican film Somos Lo Que Hoy directed by Jorge Michel Grau, We Are What We Are follows the desperation of the Parker family. Headed by Bill Sage as Frank Parker, daughters Rose (Julia Garner) and Iris (Ambyr Childers) struggle between their desire to end their family's tradition of ritual sacrifice and their obligation to their ailing father. As bones of missing persons begin to wash downstream from the Parker trailer park, time is running out for the familyÉand Mr. Parker is willing to do anything necessary to preserve their way of life.
The best feature of this film is its frank depiction of the events without the commentary of musical stings or flashy camerawork. The filmography is just beautiful. Nothing feels "stage-y" or overly dramatic; the camera following a leaf as it washes along the flooding streets is rather elegant in its simplicity. Unfortunately this deliberate pace, to which director Jim Mickle specifically adhered as a personal challenge, cannot overcome the tediousness that beauty without purpose causes.
It's clear the slower tempo is meant to fuel the story; the lingering hunger of the family drags on over their cleansing fast. But Somos Lo Que Hoy used this stark "art house" approach to highlight the abject poverty of Mexico City through an allegory of cannibalism. Besides, there's no real rush when police are tied up in bribery and drug rings; no one is coming looking for missing prostitutes and men picked up in bars by teenage boys. And while Mickle decides to pit Rose and Iris' desires against their father, Grau's original work has the adolescent boys struggling to support their mother and sister by finding the next victim on their own without guidance. Grau's choice is more interesting by far; Mickle's doesn't hold water. Both Rose and Iris know how to drive the car and the keys are on a hook by the door. And my God, could they please stop crying and brooding over their easily-escapable fate as they stare out into the rain? A movie is not made by "mood" shots. On top of this, Frank is suffering from some pretty serious diseases when we meet the family. It is far too easy for them to walk away even with Frank's violent tendencies. Hell, I could beat the sh*t out of Frank and my exercise regimen involves standing in line at Pie Face.
It comes down to why a movie is made. If the filmmaker doesn't have a passionate, personal, provocative, and political reason to tell their story, the movie becomes a hollow jumble of ideas and pointless artwork. When boiled down, pun intended, We Are What We Are reduces down to nothing at all.
Video, Audio and Special Features:
Video, audio and special features will not be graded as this was a screening.