Director – Jim Mickle
Cast – Bill Sage, Ambyr Childers, Julia Garner, Jack Gore, Kelly McGillis, Wyatt Russell, Michael Parks, Nick Damici
Release Year – 2014
Reviewed by John of the Dead
Mexican horror film We Are What We Are made waves in America when it toured festivals in 2010 and was released VOD (Video On Demand) in 2011. In a day and age when good international horror films are often remade in the US, an American remake was delivered to us from one of the genre’s best filmmakers, Jim Mickle – the man behind Stake Land and Cold in July. What surprised me about this remake is its country of origin – Mexico. We see remakes of Spanish and Asian films often, but never Mexico. Do you want to know what did not surprise me, given it’s based on a good film and comes via Jim Mickle? I was not surprised at how good this film is.
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. Written by Entertainment One
The story, written by Jim Mickle and actor Nick Damici, takes off in dramatic fashion as the Parker family suffers the sudden loss of one of their own. We are then introduced to the family, focusing on the three children, the eldest two girls and the youngest a boy, as they deal with their soon to be ever-growing troubles. Their father has been steadfast in keeping a long-standing family tradition that dates back to the 1700s…cannibalism. I don’t feel like I am spoiling anything in saying that. If you know anything about the film going into it then you’ll know that already, and if you don’t, then you do now. The rain is having a very negative effect on the family’s secret, and soon enough a grief-stricken father of a missing daughter, Dr. Barrow (Michael Parks), begins to piece the clues together. This effort is equally dramatic as it is horrific, with the horror stemming from Frank’s over bearance on his family and the actions he takes to keep their tradition alive. There character play was OK, with a few supporting actors filling very basic roles that did not blossom to full potential, like Deputy Anders. I expected to see better interaction between the Parker children, especially when you consider the horror they are going through. I would not say this is bad writing, it’s just simplistic and very basic at times.
Mickle’s direction is fantastic as usual, making the most of this dramatic story. From the get-go we are enveloped into his gloomy atmosphere, made possible with great locations and below zero exposure settings for the daytime scenes. The atmosphere is just as gloomy as the story is and I will always enjoy that in a film. Bill Sage does a tremendous job portraying Frank, and the ever-awesome Michael Parks is solid as Dr. Barrow. If you pay attention you will also notice co-writer Nick Damici portraying the town’s sheriff in what proved to be an under-used role like those I mentioned earlier. Mickle’s execution of the horror is fantastic, and I know this because he did not have to show much to shock me. There aren’t a ton of kills in this story, so the few kills we do see have to hit hard…and they do. He employs live gore, but even then this isn’t a very gory film – especially for a cannibal film. His expertise shows here, proving that Mickle is one of the genre’s top-tier directors.
Overall, We Are What We Are is a good dramatic horror film. It will come off a bit tame to those who expect a gory cannibal film, but the actions of the characters, along with great acting performances, make up for that.