Review: 'We Are What We Are'

By: Heather Seebach

In 2010, the Mexican horror film Somos lo Que Hay won critics over with its fresh take on the cannibal subgenre. Like all great foreign films, it was inevitably remade for American audiences. Some remakes, however, can be amazing if put in the right hands. Such is the case of We Are What We Are, Jim Mickle's very different, very good reboot of the Mexican horror film.

In this reimagining, the gender roles are flipped and the setting is moved from Mexico City to a small mountain town. When the Parker family matriach dies, the father and two young daughters remain to carry on family feast traditions (hint: they're not vegetarians). But their old family secret is threatened when a storm rages through town and local authorities start uncovering evidence connected to the town's missing persons. 

Not only does this remake avoid the common pitfall of coloring too much within the lines of the original but it's also a damn good film! Mickle has managed to reinvent the original story such that it takes on an even eerier atmosphere and new commentary. Set in an impoverished urban setting, the Mexican version carried a socio-economic message, whereas this one deals more with family obligation and loyalty. So too does the gender reversal create an interesting divergence from the original, with this family almost resembling that of a lion's pride wherein the females do the hunting.

We Are What Are Are is full of great performances, especially Bill Sage as the Parker patriarch who says very little throughout the entire film but still conveys the depth of a man bound by traditions yet deeply protective of his children. Michael Parks plays a local doctor who begins to suspect the family and he is fantastic as always. Parks is one of those actors I get excited about whenever he turns up in a film. As the girls, Ambyr Childers and Julia Garner are both solid and take turns stealing scenes. Garner, already a star on the rise with acclaimed indies like The Perks of Being a Wallflower and Elektrik Children, runs away with the second half and leaves a lasting impression.

On the surface, it may be a cannibal film but We Are What We Are works just as well as a family drama. It brings a gritty, realistic spin to a horror sub-genre that is often over-the-top if not downright silly. This is a tense, atmospheric film worth your time and it should come as no surprise that this made my top 10 genre films of 2013. It's a slow-burn thriller so if you go in expecting scares, you may be disappointed. If, however, you enjoy good storytelling and great actors, give this one a go.

We Are What We Are is now available on DVD and Blu-ray. Bonus features include the featurette "An Acquired Taste: The Making-of We Are What We Are"; interviews with Jim Mickle, Bill Sage, and Julia Garner; and audio commentary with cast and crew. You can pick up a copy via the links below:

Click here to buy the Blu-ray!

Click here to buy the DVD!

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