Review: We Are What We Are – Dark, dank and disturbing
You know that quiet, weird family who keeps to themselves and lives on the outskirts of the city? Every outlying burg or small town has at least one of these crazy clans of outcasts (or at least they do in the movies), and the film, We Are What We Are, sets out to prove that those eccentric folks are even more demented and wacky than you imagined they were.
We Are What We Are’s story could have been pulled straight from the pages of an EC Comics’ “Vault of Horror” magazine, and although it has an old-timey gothic feel, it is set in modern day. The movie is actually an American remake of the 2010 Mexican film, “Somos lo que hay.”
The film begins with the mysterious death of the reclusive Parker family’s matriarch while she has gone into town for supplies. The woman’s death leaves the obsessively religious father, Frank Parker (Bill Sage), to care for his two teenage daughters, Rose (Julia Garner) and Iris (Ambyr Childers), and his young son, Rory (Jack Gore). The man also expects his older daughter, Iris, to now fill her mother’s shoes by caring for the family in some rather unusual ways.
It is raining for almost the entire running time of We Are What We Are, and the weather not only sets a very dark and dank atmosphere for the film, it also plays a part in revealing the age-old secrets of the Parker family, and in solving mysteries that the local police ignore, but that the small town doctor, Doc Barrow (Michael Parks), thinks might explain the disappearance of his daughter.
We Are What We Are is written and directed by Jim Mickle, who, together with co-writer, Nick Damici, also did the very good apocalyptic vampire flick, Stake Land (2010). While the two films are miles apart tonally and thematically, they are both very good movies and prove that this filmmaking team is currently one of the boldest and best working in the horror genre.
The entire cast in this movie is excellent, but Michael Parks as Doc Barrow stands out as having what I think is probably the best dramatic performance of his long career. It’s too bad that due to the nature of this beast, being an indie horror film, Parks will most likely not receive the recognition he should get for his work in this role.
Kelly McGillis, who you might remember as Tom Cruise’s love interest in the movie Top Gun, makes a nearly unrecognizable appearance as the Parker’s next-door neighbor. She does a great job, but when the credits rolled I was shocked to learn it was her.
I’ve tried not to give too much away about this film, but I have to mention that it does have a very disturbing ending; one of those love it or hate it moments that at first I didn’t really care for, but the more I thought about it, the more I liked it. Either way, you’re going to be talking about it.
We Are What We Are is a very good film overall, but it does have a few moments that didn’t make any sense to me. Maybe I just missed something that on a second viewing would be clearer, but the narrative strays in a couple of sections (that I can’t get into without spoilers) and prevents me from giving this otherwise excellent horror film a higher rating. Grade: 7/10
Photos © 2013 Entertainment One Films