Two films. Two languages. Same premise. Let us decide a winner once and for all.
An elderly man staggers through a shopping mall. He is dishevelled and acting erratically, obviously distressed. He collapses.
So begins We Are What We Are, a film that tells you nothing and demands that you pay attention and join the dots. Unfortunately as with all join the dots, the end result is hardly thrilling nor surprising, and what starts with mystery and flair quickly loses steam.
With Dad dead (that answers that) the inaction turns to the remainder of the We Are family, frazzled Mum, sensible daughter and two sons, one a hothead, one more quiet yet determined.
With the source of income removed, the boys resolve to keep the family traditions alive, the daughter coolly and calmly apportions responsibility and makes balanced decisions to benefit all, and Mum rambles on and on about how the ‘ritual’ must surely right things.
I’m pretty sure if I was a hungry as these guys I would have done something quicker to remedy the situation sooner.
Unlike almost all other reviews and even the DVD cover, I won’t be the one to blab the film’s ‘big secret’. It isn’t that revelatory in any case, and certainly isn’t well utilised. If you are a film with one trick and don’t even maximise it, I fail to see reason to praise and extol the virtue of same.
Final Rating – 6 / 10. There is much brooding, worrying and fretting, but not a great deal of action. Maybe if they ate more fish? That’s brain food right?
Let’s see if the English language remake fares better…
The American remake of We Are What We Are makes a couple of savvy tweaks to the Mexican original. It takes the film from the more populous locale – it’s harder to find ‘targets’ when everyone knows everyone – and attempts to provide a backstory. An origin tale of sorts.
I wish I had have seen this one first so I could gauge the impact more effectively, because there isn’t a great deal more to this film than there was when it was South of the border.
In a minor reversal it is Ma Parker whose passing proves the beginning of festivities. She leaves behind a grieving husband, two teenaged daughters, a young son of perhaps five and a body to be examined by the local sawbones Doc Barrow (Michael Parks).
It is the father who first reminds the family of their obligations. “This is what we do” he calmly intones. And so the annual Fast continues. The film might be set in the present day, but the Family exists in another time altogether, and by their own set of beliefs and rules.
As is their tradition they follow the ways of their forebears; explorers and pioneers in the region. The time has arrived for the father to give the eldest daughter the Family ‘bible’.
While Doc Barrow follows the perplexing series of macabre clues and consults with the young handsome local deputy as to the seemingly implausible possibilities, the Fast continues…
Of course with the film’s underlying themes the subject matter gets dark indeed and the tone is kept deliberate and quite morbid. The Family’s sense of desperation grows with their hunger. What initially appears as brooding becomes increasingly unpalatable – pardon the pun – and the girls in particular develop sallow, dead eyes, with an ashen complexion to match.
The film betrays both its roots and tone with an explosive ending that seems to be out of kilter with the rest if the film. But all in all this remake of We Are What We Are is the better of the two versions, but it’s still only a decent movie.
Final Rating – 6.5 / 10. Well We Are What We Are ‘is what it is’, which is a competent, sincere, well made, middling horror movie.
The Verdict: A Tie. Sure it’s a cop out, but when neither film manages to escape the ‘Grey Area’, I refuse to declare a victor. The Mexican film came up with the premise. The American developed it a little.
No-one gets the chocolates today…