We Are What We Are (Somos Lo Que Hay) (4 stars)

We Are What We Are (Somos Lo Que Hay)

(15) 89min

Mexican writer/director Jorge Michel Grau’s raw horror about a family of human flesh-eaters mines from the cannibalistic, allegorical and political seam that David Cronenberg and George A Romero explored in the 1970s.

Set in the grimly dog-eat-dog world of Mexico City, We Are What We Are begins with the squalid death of a old man, who leaves behind a family of cannibals: a wife (Carmen Beato) and three children, the eldest of whom, Alfredo (Francisco Barreiro) struggles to take on his father’s mantle as hunter-gatherer.

Grau places the family within the context of a predatory, stinking world, riddled with prostitution and grasping police corruption. Disturbingly, Grau makes cannibalism seem like the only appropriate response to the social circumstances and treats their plight with according sympathy; as with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it seems that the family that slays together, stays together.

From its baldly descriptive title, almost suggestive of a family motto, Grau’s auspicious feature debut offers an unflinching portrait of modern society; as Alfredo’s erratic brother Julian (Alan Chavez) threatens the family unit with his incestuous desires towards sister (Sin Nombre’s Paulina Gaitan), it’s clear that the notion of a world turning in on itself will be followed through to its unpleasant end.

GFT, Glasgow and selected release from Fri 12 Nov.

We Are What We Are

  • 4 stars
  • 2010
  • Mexico
  • 15
  • Directed by: Jorge Michel Grau
  • Cast: Francisco Barreiro, Alan Chavez, Paulina Gaitan

In Mexico City Alfredo takes on the role of principle hunter-gatherer after his father dies, but struggles when chaos and incest threaten the family unit. Director Grau makes cannibalism seem the only resort in these predatory circumstances, following the film to an inevitable, gruesome conclusion.

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