Kelly's August Pick
We Are What We Are
When it comes to cannibalism in horror, you have the “big guns” of the zombie movies from George Romero and the King of Gore, Italy’s Lucio Fulci. Or there are the tribal classics of Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust and Umberto Lenz’s Cannibal Ferox. Often films that feature cannibalism are filled with gut-munching, bloody violence but lack poignancy (except for Raw, I am crazy about that incredible movie!). However then comes Jim Mickle, one of my favorite modern horror directors, with his take on the cannibalism genre, 2013’s We Are What We Are.
We Are What We Are follows the lives of a secluded and devout family, the Parkers. After their mother dies, the daughters Rose and Iris, are to take on a certain responsibility in the household. This isn’t disclosed until later in the film but hinted at when the little boy, Rory, goes down into the basement to investigate where some strange noises are coming from. From behind a locked door, a crying woman reaches out for help, horrifying the young child. He is quickly saved by the handsome patriarch of the family, Frank. Frank’s job is to capture the women and Iris and Rose are to kill and prepare them in a ritualized setting for consumption. This is deeply upsetting to the girls, even though they understand that this is their role within the family and that is how it has been for generations. Under the oppressive rule of their father and their own moral quarrels, they take it upon themselves to break what has been forced upon them. They do this the only way they know-how, and it’s through tasty, meaty means.
If you haven’t seen a Jim Mickle film - Stake Land, Mulberry Street or We Are What We Are - then stop right now and do so immediately. He takes bleak, monstrous situations like vampires, zombies, or cannibalism, and inserts an incredible amount of humanity into them. This is something I find lacking in these subgenres sometimes and this is why I find Jim Mickle’s work to stand out so greatly. I wish I could tell Jim Mickle how much I adore his work. Sigh.
The cinematography, score, and acting are top-notch in We Are What We Are. This movie will not only disturb but also deeply move you. I love a cannibal movie filled with entrails and copious amounts of gore, but We Are What We Are is a refreshing take on this gruesome subgenre. I haven’t seen the original, hailing from Mexico, so I can’t comment on the remake aspect of this film but what I can say is that it’s beautiful and wonderful.