We Are What We Are is a 2013 American remake of a 2010 Mexican horror film of the same name. We Are What We Are is a remake that was done exceedingly well. That’s not just my opinion as I haven’t seen the original film. But from what I’ve read in Issue 141 of Rue Morgue is that it basically just takes the same basic concept and recast in a different location. Switching from the slums of Mexico to the backwoods of rural America with numerous other changes from original film.
We Are What We Are is the story of a religious family lead by patriarch Frank Parker (played by Bill Sage) struggling with their age old tradition of annual cannibalism after the sudden death of his wife. Frank’s two daughters Rose and Iris (played by Julia Garner and Ambyr Childers) are forced to take up with the family tradition while at the same time questioning the ethics of it. During a torrential rain storm the bodies of the families old victims get brought to the surface… literally and washed down stream. Leading to the local doctor Doc Borrow (played by Micheal Parks) to stumble upon the family’s secret and begins to suspect the Parkers in the disappearance of his daughter years earlier.
We Are What We Are is a surprisingly superior horror film . The characters are deep well written with clear personalities, goals and desires. The actress Julia Garner and Ambyr Childers who played the daughters were particularly outstanding. Both actresses and Bill Sage who portrays the father carry the emotion weight of the movie insanely well. Not that the rest of the cast is weak Micheal Parks is very believable as a grieving father who wants to know what happened to his daughter.
But its the atmosphere and pacing that steal the show. We Are What We Are has the constant build up that makes a great horror movie. It’s the second act when the pace starts to quicken bringing us to one of the best ending scenes I might have ever seen. The whole time the atmosphere never lets up even a bit. The heavy rain, the old wood house all nestled into a small rural town gives this film the cold, solid feeling of reality. While watching this film I found it effortless believe that something like this could be happening somewhere out there in the forgotten backcountry at this very moment.
The film also has strong undertones about the effect of religious fervor can have on a family. This is approached in a mature and adult manner that might be lost on younger audiences. We Are What We Are touches the subject enough for the audience to be aware of it but never takes a defiant stance. Since the characters are struggling with so must we the audience.
We Are What We Are also features a pretty decent body count. I counted a total of 5 fatalities over its 105 minute run time. That means someone dies every 21 minutes that’s impressive for a non-slasher/monster flick. On the hand all the death are pretty tame save for the final one in the film. The brutality in that scene was stuck in my mind for hours after viewing it. Hell I didn’t want to sleep out of fear that image would work its way into my dream via my traitorous sub-conscious.
While I can find no faults in its execution, being both engaging and chilling at the same time. The great acting and cold dismal atmosphere is almost flawless. The films starting was a bit to slow for my tastes but once the films momentum started to pick up in the second act it became intensely satisfying. So I give We Are What We Are 8/10 a solid horror film that’s also a prime example of engrossing storytelling. But regretfully I can’t see it becoming an enduring classic. Something that I hope time proves me wrong on.