We Are What We Are DVD Review
Written by James "Spez" Ferguson
DVD released by Chelsea Cinema
Written and Directed by Jorge Michel Grau
2010, Region 2 (PAL), 88 Minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD Released on March 21st, 2011
Francisco Barreiro as Alfredo
Paulina Gaitán as Sabina
Alan Chávez as Julián
Carmen Beato as Patricia
Jorge Zárate as Owen
Loss is something that is hard on everyone. When someone dies, their loved ones are forced to come to terms with the fact that they're not there anymore. When Alfredo's father passes away, he becomes the head of the household, but he's not ready for such responsibility. He can barely take care of himself, let alone his mother, sister, and brother. Of course, he also has to make sure that everyone gets fed, and his family only eats human flesh.
This is the hook for We Are What We Are, the feature film debut from Jorge Michel Grau. It's unfortunate that the cannibal aspect is ruined by the DVD cover because if you went into this movie without knowing anything about it, you'd be in for a huge surprise. We Are What We Are starts with a very slow build. On the surface it is an emotional drama about a family that has just lost their father who provided for them with his meager watch business. The characters deal with their loss while occasionally mentioning that they need "something for tomorrow." It isn't until almost a half hour into the film before they finally reveal that that "something" is a person for them to eat.
It's this build to the violence that makes it all the more terrifying. At first this looks like an average drama and you identify with the characters on a deep level because everyone has suffered the loss of a loved one. So, when the brothers bring a prostitute home and strap her to the table to begin the ritual, it's akin to finding out your cousin or uncle is a serial killer. Grau does an excellent job in this scene, as the focus is on the woman as knives are passed between the boys, blurred in the foreground. The tension was incredibly thick.
There was something that puzzled me about the film, though. If the family eats people, shouldn't they have more money for other stuff, like a decent place to live? They seem to be living in a shithole and if they're essentially getting all their food for free, you'd think they'd at least have some coin to make their place a little nicer.
The juxtaposition between drama and horror helped and hurt We Are What We Are. At times it seemed like the film didn't know what it wanted to be as it bounced between the aspects of each genre. I wish I could say that it found a happy medium between the two, but that is not the case. It is still a very well-made film, though, and impressive for a first time director. If you get the chance, watch it with friends who haven't heard of it at all and watch their expressions as the truth is revealed.
Video and Audio:
The colors in We Are What We Are are a little dry and washed out, which fits perfectly with the sense of loss that fills the movie. Everything looked pretty clear, too. This is a relief as things could have easily been dim or tough to see in the dark scenes. The audio is nothing to write home about but fortunately that's not a big focus for the film. We Are What We Are works on subtlety, so you don't need to be blown away by an impressive audio track.
This is the area of the disc that is definitely lacking. With a great story I was hoping for at least something, but the only feature on the DVD is a trailer for the film.