Mexico and horror aren’t usually uttered in the same sentence, but thanks to filmmaker Michel Grau, things are about to change. Straight out of Mexico comes the compellingly realistic We Are What We Are, a tale of a family of cannibals who struggle to continue forth after the death of their husband/father.
While “cannibals” is the obvious selling point, We Are What We Are is quite simply a striking character piece filled with so much pain and suffering that it’s hard not to identify with these “monsters”. Before his death, Papa was a piece of sh*t who left his family with horrible debt, and spent his nights out with whores. The widowed wife is bitter, angry and resentful. She takes her anger and frustration out on her kids; one who is determined to take over his father’s place as the man of the house, the other who feels nothing but disdain from his mother, and the quiet sister who believes in keeping the tradition alive (daddy’s little girl). The film is the struggle of this fractured family and how everything falls to pieces because of their inability to talk to each other/work together. It’s a sad reflection on poverty stricken families that’s both chilling and gut-wrenchingly sad at the same time.
With his beautiful camerawork, gritty set pieces and earthy/blackened cinematography, Grau takes the viewer on an unrelenting journey to the darker side of Mexico. The style itself is unnerving as the audience is thrust into each scene where the family fights over obtaining “food”. Every scream, slap or door slam will make you jump. There is more horror in the everyday life of this poor family than in the terrors of eating another human being.
Don’t expect splashes of gore or a numbered amount of kill sequences, We Are What We Are is atmospheric horror (think The Ring) that’s well above the need to shock the audience. While much of the violence is committed off screen, Grau beautifully shoots these scenes so that it’s just as captivating (the silhouette dismemberment is fantastic).
We Are What We Are is this year’s Let the Right One In, a film that all horror fans will fall in deeply love with. It’s horror that’s dark and darker. There is no ying to the yang, and that’s why this cannibal tale is more gut wrenching than nearly anything to ever hit the big screen.