We Are What We Are: Slow-Burning Horror Remake
Stomach-churning and deliciously unnerving, Jim Mickle’s We Are What We Are is an American remake of Jorge Michael Grau’s 2010 Mexican horror flick of the same name. Though we’ve seen our fair share of poor horrors over the last year, this is one film doesn’t hold back in its telling of a dysfunctional family and their troubling religious rituals.
Set in the remote and damp outskirts of the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York, the film is centred on the Parkers; a relatively withdrawn family of four, shaken by the sudden death of the sickly mother of the house, Emma (DePaiva), who, after suffering a mysterious seizure, drowns in a gutter.
Quickly after her tragic death, Frank (Sage), a stern and bearded patriarch of a father, hands down the responsibility of the Parkers’ family meal duties to his eldest daughter, Iris (Childers), who is fearful of the responsibility despite having the support of her equally frightened younger sister, Rose (Garner).
Meanwhile, the results of their mother’s autopsy and the mysterious findings of human bones washed up in the river bring the Parkers unwanted attention, threatening to uproot their deeply-buried family secret.
Forsaking traditional horror conventions and instead focusing on building the story intricately, We Are What We Are is painted with quiet and delicate tones.
The key to the success of the story lies firmly with the actors, all of whom execute their roles perfectly. Sage – known for his role in the American Psycho– interprets Frank’s domineering, fear-inducing presence with conviction, while Childers delivers a wonderfully moving performance of a girl asked to grow up much too fast. As her equally brittle and unnerved sibling, Garner shines in her role, and Gore, as the youngest member of the Parker clan, is both adorable and creepily absorbing at the same time.
Taking time to develop, We Are What We Are is deliberately slow and, although there are moments where the story stumbles, the overall effect will shock and is well worth the wait. This is not a film for the faint of heart.