We Are What We Are (2013): Review

Remakes of foreign films often fail to bring their gritty elements with them, and ultimately the horror gets lost in translation. The middling 2010 Mexican horror film We Are What We Are caused a stir with its frank depiction of cannibalism. This remake keeps only a few bare concepts from the original, creates an incredibly resonant  atmosphere, and manages to categorically improve upon its predecessor with very competent and engrossing filmmaking.

After the death of their mother, the eldest daughter must continue the family ways under the oppressive control of their father. It’s not a highly original story, but it’s well told, cleverly framed, and doesn’t rely on any cheap gimmicks. But it requires patience with it’s a slow, lurid pace, and bleak, joyless tone. Ultimately, the ripe, gutsy, and sobering performances make this movie a compelling tragedy.

This is only the third film from Jim Mickle (director of Stake Land and Mulberry Street) and it screened at both the Sundance and Cannes Film Festivals, and holds an 85% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It appears his strength lies in transcending straight-forward horror and examining the horror of the human condition. (Look for the upcoming revenge drama Cold in July starring Michael C. Hall and Sam Shepard this summer from IFC Midnight.)