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on February 3, 2014
This film will not be for everyone. Some might find it slow, others will sense the tension building. You might think you know what is going to happen but you don't. This is such a bizarre combination of indie film art and offbeat horror. I don't how else to describe it. I enjoyed it but was definitely macabre.
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on November 19, 2015
Horror movies about cannibals have been a staple since Tobe Hooper took a big bite out of the genre with 1974's The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. That micro-budget indie set the basic pattern for a score of sequels, remakes, and imitations: An inbred, monosyllabic sub-Mensa family - with a penchant for making masks and lampshades with human skin - trap, kill, and cook unwitting teenagers.

The Silence of the Lambs gave us an articulate, Euro-suave gourmand cannibal, but served up pretty much the same stew.

There's nothing formulaic about We Are What We Are, a brilliant, deeply disturbing religious allegory about an otherwise normal family in rural, upstate New York who subscribe to a generations-old belief that they will die if they don't consume human flesh.

Loosely adapted from Mexican director Jorge Michel Grau's stunning 2010 shocker, We Are What We Are is the third feature from indie wunderkind Jim Mickle, who breathed new life into the vampire genre with 2010's equally riveting, innovative Stake Land.

An American Gothic yarn about the power of tradition, ritual, and sacrifice to bind a clan together, We Are What We Are doesn't waste time with cheap scares. Mickle keeps his story on a steady, slow simmer, transporting us minute by minute into the very heart of dread.

Ambyr Childers (Tee Master) and Julia Garner (Martha Marcy May Marlene) give deeply moving performances as teenage sisters Iris and Rose Parker, who find themselves the heads of the family when their mother is accidentally killed in a violent storm.

Their father, Frank (Bill Sage), expects them to take up their mother's mantle and initiate their clan's generations-old ritual of preparing, sacrificing, and consuming another human being. Frank may be the enforcer who reminds the girls of the strictures of their strange covenant with the universe, but he's powerless to perform the ritualized killing himself: It's always been the matriarch's role.

Kill Bill's Michael Parks has a strong turn as Doc Barrow, who begins to investigate the family when his autopsy of the mother reveals a shocking secret.

Perhaps the most frightening aspect of Mickle's film is that it elicits sympathy for Iris and Rose's singularly melancholy family.

Shot in an area of New York state that still bears the scars of Hurricane Irene, and fortified by amazing sound design and an exquisite eye for visual rhyme and rhythm, We Are What We Are is suffused by an eerie, biblical atmosphere.

It evokes such terrifying scenes as Noah's Flood, Moses' sublime confrontation with God, and Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac, reminding us that the sacred can manifest itself as a voracious monster.
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on June 22, 2015
First let me say the only reason I bought this movie is because it has Kassie Depaiva in it. I try to buy any movies I can that have "ex-One Life To Livers" in it. Kassie is my favorite. The movie is good. Kind of creepy. But it makes you think a little. Like, Are there people out there like that? There probably are somewhere. It's Better than a lot of movies I have seen lately with all the hoopla. All the actors were good. Lots of talent in this movie. I would say "try it you'll like it", but that would probably date me wouldn't it? Wish Kassie would have had a bigger part. I should say "more screen time".. To add a side note, ... The person who gave the go ahead to cancel One Life To Live is an idiot! Who needs another "reality-cooking-blab-fest-talk show?"
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We Are What We Are (Jim Mickle, 2013)

Less than a minute into Jim Mickle's reimagining—one cannot call it a remake with a straight face—of Jorge Grau's fine 2010 film Somos lo que Hay, he has already made it plain to the viewer who has seen the previous film that We Are What We Are is a different movie indeed. The two movies start with the same event; the death of the head of a family. While that death is never explained in the 2010 film (the family gets a visit from the coroner about two-thirds of the way through this version with a cause of death, not that it matters), the two of them are virtually identical in the method in which each family member dies; it starts with a nosebleed, descends quickly into convulsions, and within seconds that person has shuffled off this mortal coil. It is the circumstances surrounding the two deaths that make all the difference. When Papa does in the 2010 film, he is in a large city. He is surrounded by people, yet he is utterly alone and anonymous. (One of the movie's finest, funniest, blackest scenes is the revelation of what happens to him after his death, which takes place in the following minute or so.) In the 2013 film, Emma Parker (Evil Dead II's Kassie DePaiva) is trying to beat a coming storm in a small backwoods town somewhere in Appalachia, frantically grabbing groceries, but still managing to have time to have a conversation with the clerk at the general store. (Yes, this town is small enough to still have a general store.) In the space of a couple of minutes, Jim Mickle has changed the sex of the dying parent and the type of city in which the family lives. This should be creating a string of “what if?”s in the head of any viewer who has seen the original movie. It is to Jim Mickle (Mulberry St.)'s credit that instead of doing this and then trying to shoehorn the rest of the movie into remake territory, he gives us, essentially, an entirely new film based on those “what if?”s. And it is a good one indeed, Jim Mickle's best film to date.

After Emma's death, her husband Frank (Mysterious Skin's Bill Sage), is distraught enough that his daughters, Iris (The Master's Ambyr Childers) and Rose (Martha Marcy May Marlene's Julia Garner), have to step up and take charge. Well, that's the way it looks at first, but here's where those amazing what-ifs start cascading; Emma and her family, it seems, are from a long line that stems from an entirely matriarchal culture, and so Frank is stuck playing second fiddle and, occasionally, enforcer. This is especially the case when the girls' younger brother Rory (Every Secret Thing's Jack Gore in his screen debut) starts to get close to Marge (Top Gun's Kelly McGillis), their nearest neighbor, and the friendship between the two threatens to expose the Parkers' long-held secrets.

Perhaps the biggest change to the original film is when those secrets are revealed. They become obvious in the original film not long after the two children (sons in that one) are forced to take over the family; here, they are held back longer, turned into a Big Reveal(TM). This could be because I've seen the original and am a fan of it, but I didn't think the skeletons in the family's closet were really as big a deal as that would lead one to think; in many ways, that seems to me the weakest link in this otherwise very good film. I hesitate to say that this is the best way to remake a movie, but it is certainly a far sight better than the vast majority of remakes that have been coming out of Hollywood for the past ten or so years. Imaginations ran wild when Mickle and longtime partner in crime Nick Damici were putting this script together, and most everything falls into place pretty nicely; those pieces that had to be forced or shimmed are minor, really, and We Are What We Are is a worthy descendant of the original film that manages to blaze its own trail successfully. *** ½
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on April 4, 2016
The three stars is for the remake with Ambyr Childers and Julia Garner, I watched that about a year ago but I got Shudder as an add-on and was presented with the 2010 Mexican version. I wish they would fix this and the aforementioned audio de syncing, I watched it as I had already finished most of the film and wanted to see the end. I see it hasn't been fixed since the last review mentioning it.
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The Parkers are a small-town and seemingly wholesome rural family but they harbor a dark secret. The father, Frank Parker, rules the family consisting of teenage daughters Rose and Iris, and young son Rory, with a puritanical dedication to his family’s legacy. That legacy, dating back to the 1700s, includes the murder and consuming the body of their victim in an annual feast just as any other family would celebrate Thanksgiving.

When Frank’s wife passes away, the responsibly of assisting him with killing the victims now falls to eldest daughter Iris. But she and Rose are hesitant, desiring only to be normal teenagers. As they prepare themselves for their ghoulish feast, the local doctor begins unraveling the clues that will reveal their cannibalistic legacy and lead him to discover what happened to his own daughter who went missing.

We Are What We Are is a slow moving film and despite its subject matter it is extremely light on blood and gore. The film was directed by Jim Mickle who directed the excellent 2010 vampire film “Stake Land”. Like that film, this one also relies heavily on characterization and atmosphere. To that end he employs much of the same cast and crew including actors Kelly McGillis and Nick Damici, Cinematographer Ryan Samul, and composer Jeff Grace. The film has the same somber and often gloomy tone as Stake Land. The killing and eating of the body isn’t done for gruesome effect but rather as a reluctant but respectful almost religious observance of a family tradition. Thus the film never becomes over the top. Might be too slow moving for some horror fans and runs a tad too long but all in all and interesting and very different type of horror film.
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on December 23, 2013
I almost didn't watch this due to the negative reviews. I don't think they were deserved, however.
The filming was beautifully done. This is the kind of horror I like....suspense with just the right amount of gore. I had read about the movie this was remade from, so I thought I knew how it would end. I was wrong. I was NOT expecting what actually happened, and I can't help but wonder where it went from there. This movie was FAR from boring. I've never reviewed a movie on Amazon before, but given the limited reviews and the negative rating from some reviewers, I felt compelled to do so.
There are more surprises in store than the last one, though the last was definitely the biggest. If you are a fan of lamb, you might not be after this.
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on July 15, 2015
There's a rule in the dramatic arts that two things are equally important: what one says, and what one doesn't say.

The makers here follow this rule conspicuously, until the final moments; then it's as if they can no longer help themselves.

This film is about what it's like to live inside a nightmare. It starts in bad weather. A woman dies. The local doctor misdiagnoses
her disease.The technical aspects carry us along inside the dream until there is a change in tone, a sort of misstep, which allows
us to wake up. Part of this has to do with what they have the local doctor, whose daughter has gone missing, say at the end.
Part of it has to do with what they have him do (or fail to do), falling back on formulaic methods. His characterization falls apart
a little.

Wisely, there are no dream sequences, which would undermine the dreaminess of the main narrative.

There is a flashback sequence which establishes "what we are" as historical. A family tradition from the 19th century. It seems
to disrupt the main narrative. Maybe it could have gone at the beginning, and been gotten over with. The girls could still read
to us from the book.

One should see this for its many good points. The remarkable acting by the young people. The tight storyline. Pared down scant dialogue. The washed out bloodless look to the thing. Haunting music. All-in-all a sort of minimalist masterpiece. But not without
flaws.

One doesn't like to quibble, but I would have gone for the whole enchilada, by staying the course.

Not so young viewers will recognize Kelly McGillis of Witness fame as the neighbor woman, as well as Michael Parks as the
doctor.
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on June 29, 2014
The premise and positive critical reviews caught my interest so I bought the movie blind for $13. The cinematography is good and the cast brought more to the table than was inherent in their roles as written in the screenplay. Character motivation and background were completely missing. The father's religious fervor didn't ring true - probably because the writers never outlined his tenets. He prays and insists on a weekend long fast but that's about it. As an audience, are we supposed to believe that the "missing persons" plot element has been going on in this small town for years without anyone falling under suspicion? The script just isn't strong enough to justify the 105 minute running time. The first time I tried to watch it I turned it off after 20 minutes. Regretfully, not recommended.
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on September 17, 2015
Wonderful, atmospheric film. I wish it had gone a little more into the reason why the family continued their flesh-eating tradition. The origin of it makes sense, but why continue?
The last 15 minutes degenerated into tedium, though there is a dinner-time shocker (understandable, since there's been a week-long religious fast).
I liked the film, though gore-and-action types won't. I wish it had gone more into the history.
And seriously, Kuru? CJD would have been a more likely diagnosis, especially in a rural New York town cut off from the rest of the world due to natural disasters.
If you liked this, or if cannibalism appeals to you, read the book Deadly Feasts. Non-fiction, scary as hell, and will make you avoid everything from smelling flowers to visiting the dentist.
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