Despite being something of a hard-core horror fan, even I can freely admit that, these days, the majority of additions to the genre are average at best. We Are What We Are is not one of the offending; it’s probably one of the best films to have emerged in 2010.
When a man dies in the street, the family he leaves behind are confronted with the harsh reality of possible starvation, their father previously responsible for their food supply. The complication? They happen to be cannibals whose survival depends on human flesh. Add the importance of a looming and mysterious ritual they simply must have a body for, their plight is desperate, none of them having ever previously hunted.
Deftly balancing a horror premise with the politics of a family drama, We Are What We Are is utterly refreshing. It would have been all too easy to manipulate the consequential violence of the family’s cannibalistic life, but instead this is played subtly, mostly taking place out of shot, the emphasis here very much on the relationships between a near-insane mother and her three teenage children, the eldest male of whom struggles with his new role as provider. In fact, the drama plays out so well, the cannibalism is almost irrelevant; this could be any poverty-stricken family struggling to cope after the death of the bread maker. As such, Jorge Michel Grau’s first feature length is a wonderfully painted family portrait that sets him out as one to keep a close eye on.
First published in movieScope 19
We Are What We Are is available on DVD now