January 7, 2014

Review: We Are What We Are (2013)

There are few topics that a film can cover that are more disturbing than cannibalism. The act of one human being consuming the flesh (and viscera) of another human being is not only a disgusting concept, but a mortifying one as well.

Add to that already horrible notion the equally disturbing ideals of Religious fundamentalism, and you have the makings of one truly creepy piece of Cinema on your hands.

*Relax, we're not bashing Religion out of hand here, but there's no way that any rational human being can deny that some people take the concept of blind faith to pretty terrifying extremes.

Before we begin our review in earnest, let us offer a quick word of advice to those people who are intent on watching either version of We Are What We Are, and especially this remake version: Don't eat dinner while you're watching either, especially if you're having chili that night.

After their mother dies in a tragic slip and fall, the young girls of the Parker Family are not only left to take care of their distraught father and oblivious younger brother, but to tend to the family traditions, most of which involved butchering young girls and eating them, because, God says so.

"So... what exactly are we?"
The Parker clan lives a simple life in the Catskills, serving God and doing their best to avoid notice. When the same torrential rainstorm that threw their ailing mother in a ditch starts washing old human bones downstream, the local Doctor (and Coroner?) starts to question just what is up with the clan, and if they had anything to do with the recent disappearance of his daughter.   

"What in the fuck are you?"
With a dead mother, a shaky and creepy dad, a nosy neighbor, and the town Doctor and Police asking too many questions, the daughters of the Parker Family take up their womanly duties and do their best to uphold a family tradition that really shows just how messed up their family is. Nastiness and uncomfortable dinner scenes ensue.

"This, is apparently what we are."
We Are What We Are is a remake of the 2010 Mexican Horror film of the same name. While the original was a solid film in its own right, the remake improves many aspects of the original, and we found it to be a superior effort in many ways.

The opening scene of the movie sets the tone and a fairly high quality bar for the movie. It all feels very sparse and simple, and never gets too overly-complex, while at the same time weaving a pretty intricate tapestry of patriarchy, morals, and Religion around the horrifying practice of cannibalism. Though mostly bloodless, the movie disturbed the hell out of us, and we even had to avert our eyes a couple of times.

Everyone in the cast did an amazing job, and so it's hard for us to single out just a few of them for praise. If we had to choose one above the others, it would have to be Michael Parks; Parks is one of the finest character actors that we have, and he's his usual brilliant self here. Bill Sage (whom we are not familiar with at all) was pretty imposing and convincing as the patriarch of the Parker clan as well, and the "showdown" between he and Parks was something to see.

Ambyr Childers and Julia Garner were both excellent as the daughters who are forced to do unspeakable things all in the name of family, and it may just be Ambyr Childers who carries the whole movie with her performance. Like we said though, everyone was great in this.

She is what she is, and that's hot.
I'd like to say that this movie is purely about nature vs. nurture, but that's only true if the nurture part of that equation is driven heartily by Religious faith. The way that the children are "nurtured" in this movie has everything to do with their father's misguided devotion to God, and shapes them and their lives, for better or worse.

Some people may not stand for watching a film with such a derisive message about faith and Religion, even though it's all very subtle, but the fact is that the movie makes a good point about how Religion can lead the best of people to live the worst kinds of lives. The movie isn't preachy, but its subtext is pretty plain to see.

She will kill and eat you, because God is good.
After watching this movie, we're never going to eat chili again. Never.

If the dinner scene in this movie doesn't make you gag, then you are indeed a strong, strong person. The gore in this movie is mostly implied, aside from a few scenes of actual violence. Overtly gory or not, this movie will make you queasy none the less.

"Now you go fillet your Mother. Go on now, git!"
Aside from a few naked female corpses, there was a sex scene that ended up being more disturbing than it was erotic. So, nothing all that fun or exciting in the sexy department.

Though the dinner scene probably affected us the most, we have to say that the ending probably shocked us more.

Yes, we looked away from the screen, multiple times.
As both a remake and a stand alone film, We Are What We Are is a solid, well-made piece of work that will genuinely effect you no matter your take on its content. It's definitely a gross-out at times (though a subtle one), but if you can weather the nauseating storm, you may just end up loving this movie as we did. It's definitely worth a VOD rental, and maybe even a Blu/DVD purchase, especially at that low $15 Amazon price.

Either way, see it when you can.


We Are What We Are is available now on Blu-ray, DVD, and VOD. It's also currently streaming on Netflix.


Ambyr Childers and Julia Garner made the disturbing events in this movie a little more bearable with their beauty... though we're still never eating chili again. No one is pretty enough to make us do that.


  1. There's something about Jim Mickle films that just really work for me.

  2. Agreed, Marcus. Loved Stake Land, and can't wait for Cold in July. That Nick Damici ain't no slouch either.

  3. I can't wait to see this. I saw the original and loved the concept, but the whole flick didn't sit well with me. I'm glad to hear this is better, can't wait now!

  4. I'm wondering about myself. During the dinner scenes I was thinking: "Now they have plenty of fresh meat and all they cook is some chilli." On the one hand, if this is going to make it possible to get the most times of meals from it, there was no meaning in this drawing on the body like you do on a slaughtered pig or else. On the other hand, doing this to your recently deceased wife and forcing your daughters to deal with the meat is really something. But not a single moment did I look away. I really do wonder if there is something wrong with me this time. Usually, my eyes tend to flood easily. Perhaps, I'm just a bit tired and feeling a bit dull. Nonetheless, the ending was surprising. In a good way. For me, at least.

  5. The ending made absolutely no sense with the way daughters' character arc was headed. I really enjoyed it up until then.

    1. I felt the same way. At first I was like, "Yeah! Escape time!" Then I was like, "Wait...what? Okay now they must just be really hungry?" I was a bit unimpressed because it just seemed like it was done that way for shock value regardless of whether or not it made any sense whatsoever.

    2. I disagree it was done for cheap shock value. (SPOILERS AHEAD) The movie implies multiple times that the daughters would end up being that way. They repeat more than once "if we were different" and "wish we could be normal." The very title of the movie is foreshadowing. You also have to factor in that they were angry at their dad for trying to kill them which is why they reacted so extremely.

      Also a big part of the movie has to do with nature vs nurture. The daughters in nature don't want to do these things but nurture won. That is the struggle they have the entire film, for example the eldest daughter bringing the deputy to the woods to kill him and protect their secret (nurture), instead doing it with him cause she's always liked him(nature), dad taking matters into his own hand and making daughter feel ashamed for it(nurture).

      I mean they butchered a woman and talked about how they won't do it the next year. That's crazy talk. If they were so against it, they wouldn't have gone through with it right then and there. It was the best time to, their dad was sick and weak but they did it anyway, all while saying how terrible it was. Actions speak louder than words. There was nothing cheap about that ending. It was shocking but only because the hints and foreshadowing were done so well. If you look back on it, it makes sense.

    3. I definitely agree, now that you say that, that the ending completely matched up with the foreshadowing. That being said, I was still disappointed with the ending. I was really rooting for those girls to escape and put all that behind them. I mean, they escaped from their dad, but eating him to escape isn't exactly what I had in mind. Oh, and I just hate cliff hangers. I'm still left with a couple questions. Like, did the doctor end up dying on their kitchen floor or is it to be assumed that he is fine and just going to get the authorities when he gets up? Oh, and was the girls eating their dad a kind of foreshadowing that's meant to say that they're going to continue the tradition with just them three now? Or did they just eat him because they were pissed? I just have unanswered questions:p

    4. Sal did really sum it up because if u think about it, they can't just go from living a crazy life of catabolism to becoming a normal living being! Even if they did escape, which they did, they don't know any other ways of life and if u read about the disease kuru, u will see that it is not curable! And it is caused by eating human organs that are infected. They, being the 3 kids of the father, not only ate everything the father ate, and u could clearly see he was infected with the disease, but then they ate the father at the end, so u can see that they are also infected with this disease as well that is not curable, they just don't have the signs yet. So actually, they are already doomed, it's just a matter of time!