We Are What We Are
Directed by Jim Mickle
In this reimagining of the 2010 Mexican film of the same name, director Jim Mickle paints a gruesome portrait of an introverted family struggling to keep their macabre traditions alive, giving us something we can really sink our teeth into.
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★★★½ review by CinemaClown on Letterboxd
No matter how predictable it may seem for the majority of its runtime, Jim Mickle's We Are What We Are still manages to work as a solidly structured & cleverly paced horror that mainly relies on its carefully elevated tension & isolated setting to deliver a thrilling cinematic experience to the blood-thirsty fans of the genre, at which it vehemently succeeds.
A remake of the 2010 Mexican film of the same name, We Are What We Are tells the story of a reclusive family that rigorously follows its ancient customs & aims to keep its traditions alive at any cost. But when an unexpected tragedy strikes during a torrential downpour, the family finds its existence threatened for the secret they've held on for so long is close to being discovered.
Co-written & directed by Jim Mickle, I've been meaning to check out his earlier works ever since I watched Cold in July & after sitting through this one, I'm convinced that he is one filmmaker who surely knows how to create the right mood for the desired effect because even if the secret is out of the bag pretty early on, there are still many moments here which feel downright tense, all due to its proper build-up.
Cinematography encapsulates the whole picture with a sinister atmosphere that perfectly suits its gothic plot but its Editing could've managed to get rid of few unnecessary moments. There isn't as much violence or gore as one might expect but its subject matter is still capable of churning the stomachs of many. Also, it benefits immensely from its smartly chosen cast who all chip in brilliantly in their given roles.
On an overall scale, We Are What We Are is a welcome example in the genre of horror that feels incredibly refreshing despite its predictability, has a genuinely chilling vibe to it that most horror films of today lack, and culminates on a bloody high with a shockingly twisted finale, only to follow it up with an even more disturbing epilogue. I haven't seen the original yet but this is one American remake that seems to work amazingly well. A definite must for horror aficionados.
★★★★ review by Mr. DuLac on Letterboxd
Thank you for the sustenance we receive...
I really liked director Jim Mickle's Stake Land. The film's plot sounded like a cliché, but he made a good film by making it about the characters with the horror being the backdrop. Here he takes it a step further as it's very much character driven, but the horror is intertwined in their very being.
The story takes place in an impoverish town that I'd guess is located somewhere in the bible belt as you could say the film might be an allegory for extreme religious compliance... very extreme. Frank Parker, as played by Bill Sage, is a character that could exist as much now as in the late 1800s. He's the Parker family patriarch burdened with carrying on his family's customs and traditions like a religious zealot. There is no question that he loves his family in his broken mental state which makes the family secret all the more disturbing.
The catalyst for the events in the film is the death of Frank's wife and mother of three. This sets off numerous events including forcing the two sisters of the family in helping their father with their grizzly traditions and putting Doc Barrow on the path to that discovery. I loved how this played out as it was a smartly written series of events taking into full account what these characters would actually do in these situations. The plot doesn't just advance because of clues and developments, but also because the film makers understood their characters and what they would logically do next.
Barrow is portrayed by genre favorite Michael Parks in a really great performance that only gets rivaled by the sisters, Ambyr Childers and Julia Garner. These two really impressed me in the film as their characters have a great arc. At the beginning the roles of the sisters seem to be clearly displayed as a strong one and weaker one, but that perspective gets challenged as the plot moves a long as it forces the weaker one to step up as the strong one gets pushed over the edge. I really didn't realize how much I loved this film until I wrote all that out... bumping the rating up 1/2 a star now.
★★★★★ review by Jim Drew on Letterboxd
I did not think I would like this quite so much.
The original remains the only film I believe I've properly fallen asleep during while at FrightFest. While I can mostly blame festival fatigue/sleep deprivation, the languid pace seemed too much to put myself through again but murmurings that this (too soon?) remake was a huge step up intrigued me enough to try.
The family unit is mixed up a little bit in this one, and this is apparent as early as the opening scene. Said family is suddenly under huge pressure to keep a long-held and sinister secret undiscovered as extreme weather and Michael Parks start digging up skeletons.
Justification for their actions are handled expertly (justification for remaking a 2-year old film is a much tougher sell) and each character is fully-fleshed out, pun intended. Despite realising where most things are headed, I cared about most of these people's outcomes and an already great film knocks it out the park with a hugely satisfying ending.
A slick and sick oddity of a remake that entertains and moves while proving you don't have to do a faint photocopy to remake a film.
★★★½ review by Gonzo on Letterboxd
The Good: Filmmakers have forgotten what a real horror film is like. Jump scares seem to be the go-to tactic these days, but they fail to realize jump scares are cheap thrills that are less effective upon repeat viewings. A real horror film doesn't rely on jump scares; all it needs is a fucked up story that'll be seared into the viewers' minds. We Are What We Are doesn't rely on jump scares. It relies on tension; on mystery; on atmosphere; on dread. It relies on its fucked up story and its fucked up characters and its fucked up final act that'll surely be seared into your minds. Mouths will be agape. Guts will be churned. This is real horror. And while Mickle's remake is far from perfect, it is a welcome return of old-school terror. Standouts among the cast are the two young leads, Julia Garner and Ambyr Childers. Garner, in particular, shows promise as a future star. Cinematography boasts superb composition. Music is minimalistic yet creepy.
The Bad: The film drags a bit in spots. Some of the dialogue sounds corny.
The Bottom Line: We Are What We Are just might be the best slow-burn horror film since Let the Right One In. If you're a moviegoer looking for some genuine scares this Halloween season, forget Insidious 2 and the utterly embarrassing Carrie remake. Try to seek this out instead.
★★★★★ review by Naughty aka Juli Norwood on Letterboxd
I couldn't help myself! ;-)
The genius here is they stuck with a serious tone! They developed a remarkably dark atmosphere that sucked you in bit by bit! With a subject as horrifying as this one they didn't have to hit you over the head with it or que the jump scares to horrify you! They only had to draw you in closer and closer with a slow and methodical reveal before dropping the hammer and horrifying us out of our ever livin minds!
This is actually my 2nd viewing and I came to appreciate the film even more! I do believe sometimes we go into a film with certain expectations (baggage) that may hinder us from seeing the film in the right light so to speak!
This is one of the most creepy films I've seen in a long time!
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