Near the top of many Best Horror of 2013 lists is We Are What We Are, an American remake of a 2010 Mexican film by the same name. This movie masterfully mixes beauty and gloom while building to an unforgettable climax.
Read my review after the jump.
Official Synopsis: In We Are What We Are, a seemingly wholesome and benevolent family, the Parkers have always kept to themselves, and for good reason. Behind closed doors, patriarch Frank (Sage) rules his family with a rigorous ferver, determined to keep his ancestral customs intact at any cost. As a torrential rainstorm moves into the area, tragedy strikes and his daughters Iris (Childers) and Rose (Garner) 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.
We Are What We Are could also have been called “The Movie Where No One Ever Smiles”. (Okay, a couple supporting characters grin a couple times but, guess what? They end up dead, so…). Protagonists Iris and Rose are deeply repressed and oppressed, and therefore: depressed. Childers and Garner are so convincing in their roles that the sadness is palpable and will likely take a toll on many viewers (as it did to me). It’s not that I mind a serious Horror flick (love ‘em), but those who give We Are What We Are a spin will want to be brace themselves for an emotionally draining experience.
We Are What We Are is a movie about family secrets and expectations with pre-defined roles for men and women. It’s worth noting that this division is far from fair: The men enforce the customs while the women do the dirty work. In this way, the film resonates with deeper issues of sexism and misogyny. It’s also a condemnation of blind faith in regards to the perpetuation of outdated ceremonial practices.
Rose is the closet thing this film has to a hero. She’s the only one who openly opposes the family lifestyle. Her older sister Iris is heavily taxed by her station (when her mother dies, her responsibilities intensify dramatically), but her character seems unwilling and unable to escape. In the end, neither woman is able to dislodge themselves from under their father’s fanatical thumb, until it is too late.
The film’s conclusion will be fodder for film theorists’ and aficionados’ debate and conjecture for years to come. While the patriarch is the antagonist, the women become even uglier. Their struggle/revolt brings catharsis but no relief. What does this say about gender-roles or the film’s stance on feminism? And while I hardly ever warn folks to view with caution (we’re talking about Horror movies after all—you’ve got to expect fear and revulsion) the powerful final act is literally nauseating.
The film’s most intriguing chapters deal with the origin of the family custom. So it’s really no surprise that, according to Wikipedia, “Both a sequel and a prequel have been announced.” While I agree We Are What We Are has great franchise potential, those at the helm need to tread carefully lest the characters and themes become overshadowed by an overwhelming melancholy.
3.5 out of 5 Skull Heads
|Release Date||September 27 2013|
|Writer||Nick Damici, Jim Mickle|
|Starring||Julia Garner, Bill Sage, Wyatt Russell, Ambyr Childers|