*. We Are What We Are is a remake, or American version (maybe not quite the same thing) of Somos lo que hay (2010), a film by Jorge Grau. You’ll see that in the credits, but it’s scarcely mentioned during the DVD commentary done by the cast and crew. I don’t know why filmmakers are so shy about this. The most notorious case I know of was the commentary for Quarantine, which didn’t even mention Rec once. Are there legal reasons for this?
*. As a result I can’t say much about what they were thinking with regard to the process of adaptation. Grau’s film had more in the way of social commentary, whereas this one seems more typical of American horror. Once again the family are social and cultural isolates, surely only a generation or so away from Leatherface and his kin. This is backwoods, backward America: degenerate, religious, and cannibalistic. Pray your car doesn’t break down in one of these places, where even cell phone coverage is touch and go.
*. I made a note while watching about how the flashbacks to hard times on the frontier, the back story of the Parker family being some sort of Donner Party nightmare, were a mistake. Apparently the studio thought so too and wanted them cut but director Jim Mickle stuck to his guns. Unfortunately. The studio isn’t always wrong. Most deleted scenes I see on DVD strike me as having been justified.
*. I say the flashbacks are a mistake because they’re too much and not enough. Too much in that they clutter up the narrative, not enough in that they only confuse things. A taste for human flesh is an inherited characteristic? Is it addictive? And is the family inbred as well? That would be my reading, but it doesn’t explain much. Even the way they’re presented, intercut as montage and filmed in the same way, makes it hard to understand what is happening.
*. Once again the dysfunctional (to put it mildly) family is the source of all horrors. Oh those big, sit-down family dinners! Will we ever exorcise them from our collective unconscious? Or will they remain our nightmare tableaux till the crack of doom? They certainly haven’t left American horror films for going on fifty years now.
*. One understands that something is trying to be said about the ill effects of patriarchy and how family violence is passed down generationally, but for such a movie to work I think we have to care more about the family and here none of the characters is sympathetic. This isn’t a fault of the cast, but is more in the way they’re drawn.
*. I can’t buy the ending at all. Can we believe that these kids are going to just disappear? I don’t imagine they have much in the way of survival skills, or any ability to function in the modern world at all. Since the police will presumably be looking for them I can’t see them getting far.
*. The idea came out of a better movie, and would in turn be made into a better movie a few years later (the French-Belgian production Raw). That’s not to say this version is terrible. It’s actually well put forward in most departments. But while critics gave it a pass audience ratings were much lower. This is odd for a genre film.
*. Odd, but I can understand. In the end I found it just kind of morbid (well, obviously) and depressing. That it isn’t terribly original either, and even takes a step backward in this respect, doesn’t help. Oh well. They are what they are and it is what it is.