DVD Review: We Are What We Are (2013)

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Director Jim Mickle’s We Are What We Are was a critic’s favorite during festival screenings and a very limited theatrical run in 2013. A rather meditative horror film, it’s a remake of Jorge Michel Grau’s 2010 film of the same name. With deliberate pacing and a relative lack of “scare” moments, it definitely stands apart from the often generic low-budget films of the genre. That said, its sedentary nature and air of pretention keep it from being nearly as effective as it might’ve been with a looser and, well, scarier treatment.

It’s certainly not the cast that presents problems. Bill Sage is menacing as the religious fanatic Frank Parker, a recently widowed father of two teen girls. In the absence of his wife, Frank and his daughters Rose (Julia Garner) and Iris (Ambyr Childers) attempt to carry on a family tradition of abduction, murder, and cannibalism. The coroner (Michael Parks) who performs the autopsy on Mrs. Parker makes some distressing discoveries that tip local law enforcement off that something sinister is transpiring in the Parker residence.

WAWWA Still 2.jpgWhile there are a few distractions dropped in to pad the overlong running time (105 minutes), not a whole lot occurs during We Are What We Are. The snail’s pace plot builds towards some inevitably decisive action taken by certain members of the Parker clan (there’s also a young boy played by Jack Gore). While the last 15 minutes offer some grotesque shenanigans, it’s too little, too late to compensate for the boredom that preceded it. The cast is convincing in their one-note roles, there just isn’t enough character for them to play.

The DVD includes a laid-back commentary track by director Mickle and various cast and crew members. There’s a lot of a joking around and a few interesting tidbits (actress Julia Garner seems a bit out of her elements, contributing very little to the discussion). There’s also a lengthy (55 minutes) making-of piece, “An Acquired Taste,” that eschews the normal rah-rah promotional nonsense in favor of far more interesting, fly-on-the-wall production footage. Also available on Blu-ray.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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