Thursday, 24 September 2015

No.242 : We Are What We Are (2013)

We Are What We Are (2013) at the IMDb

 Back in Blog 234 we had a look at the Mexican original of ‘We Are What We Are’ and, as threatened, we now turn to the 2013 American remake. There is a certain snobbery in movie reviewers to side with the subtitles but for my money the American version is far superior to its predecessor.

The action, as you’d expect, has been transplanted to America with our heroes now a reclusive farming family in the backwoods of a small town. The film opens much as the original but this time the person barfing blood is a woman rather than a man. Can't nail its 'not a total remake’ colours to the mast any plainer than that! The town is in the throes of a large storm and flood and the biblical flood metaphor prevails throughout as it uncovers secrets and possibly washes away sins - I’m not totally clued up due to spotty Sunday school attendance.

Anyway word soon gets back to the family that Mom isn’t making it home with the groceries and it’s up to dad, his two daughters and young son to keep the family traditions alive. In some ways it is a shame that this is a remake as you know they are cannibals from the start, but if you saw this film fresh it keeps their secret and dieting habits a mystery for much of the film.

While the family is coming to terms with their situation Mom is on the mortuary slab and some unsettling findings are coming to light. There is nothing as oblique as the first film’s finger in the stomach but the doctor finds evidence of a disease that is associated with eating human brains. The Doc also has his own crosses to bear as his own daughter is one of the many people from the area who have gone missing over time.

Back at the homestead Dad has to become provider despite his own worrying hand tremors. His two pretty daughters are a bit more practical and this comes in handy when Dad brings in some road kill for them to prepare. They are reluctant to get involved in the family traditions despite reading up in them in an old journal which dissolves into flashback for those of us interested in the history of people eating.

Meanwhile the flood has washed away some ground and exposed some bones that look both human and cooked. The Doctor enlists the help of the deputy after the sheriff brushes him off and soon the clues regarding the cannibals’ capers start to mount up. Will the long tradition end and will the phrase ‘having Dad over for dinner’ take a new meaning?

I enjoyed this film a lot more than its Mexican counterpart. It was more interesting with better developed characters and a real sense of unease and horror. They did away with the wacky elements and that made it a lot more scary - a gang of cannibals with a sense of purpose and entitlement is plenty to carry a film without distractions.

There was a pervading sense of decay with the Mom needlessly drowning in a ditch  a fitting opening to all of the nihilistic treats to follow. Some of the metaphor such as the flooding and the graveyard scene were a bit broad but overall it did well not to be sensational but creepy and unsettling instead.

I think it was a bit confusing to have the Doctor and the Dad look so similar as it was often double take time, but it was well acted right up to the last five minutes where it went a bit over the top. The violence was horrific but used sparingly and I think the horror from this film will remain through its general vibe rather than the spade whackings and neck bitings.

It was 20 minutes longer than its predecessor but the time was well used to created an affecting and disturbing piece of work which will put you off home made stew for the foreseeable future.

‘W’ Score 18/23
Best Bit : Stiff in the Cemetery

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