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We Are What We Are (4 stars)

Jim Mickle's horror remake is as much an atmospheric slow burn cannibal film as the original

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We Are What We Are

When you talk about cannibal films people expect the gore and teeth gnashing fury of the exploitation films that shocked the 70s (most of which ended up on the Video Nasties list). And when you talk about horror remakes we’ve come to expect polished but soulless reboots of superior originals (Carrie, Fright Night and I Spit on Your Grave being recent offenders). So understandably expectations for Jim Mickle’s American take on Jorge Michel Grau’s 2010 Mexican original were decidedly lukewarm.

After their mother (Kassie DePaiva) dies it falls on Rose (Julia Garner) and Iris Parker (Ambyr Childers) to keep the family tradition alive. They're reluctant to follow in their mother's footsteps, they long to integrate with society rather than get trapped by these ancient blood rites. However their god fearing father (Bill Sage) has other ideas even as he seems to be losing his grip on reality. Concurrently suspicion is growing in the nearby town as more and more people go missing while local doctor (Michael Parks) starts to investigate the mysterious bones being washed up by flood waters.

This considered, atmospheric slow burn cannibal film very much continues the mood Mickle showcased in previous features Mulberry Street and Stake Land. At its heart this is a downbeat family drama set in a poor American community featuring some exceptionally naturalistic performances from all the leads (particularly Garner and Childers). It’s still pretty gruesome stuff but We Are What We Are is more Winter’s Bone than Cannibal Holocaust. And it's this level of realism that really sells the horror when the final act explodes into violence. A rare example of a remake that is as good as, if not better, than the original.

'We Are What We Are' Trailer

We Are What We Are

  • 4 stars
  • 2013
  • US
  • 105 min
  • 18
  • Directed by: Jim Mickle
  • Cast: Kelly McGillis, Ambyr Childers, Odeya Rush
  • UK release: 28 February 2014

Remake of the Mexican film of the same name, about a family of cannibals.

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