“We Are What We Are”, a re-imagining of the 2010 spanish-language film of the same name, is a slow-burning tale that focuses on an outwardly wholesome, yet reclusive, family whose closely followed, gruesome, ancient customs are on the brink of being brought to light, courtesy of a torrential downpour that strikes their hometown. Audiences can get a taste of what the Parker family is up to when Jim Mickle’s unsettling vision expands into additional theaters on Oct. 11.
The less one knows when sitting down to watch “We Are What We Are”, the better. Writer-director Mickle and his co-writer Nick Damici, framed their take on this tale--something Mickle said, during a recent interview, he strived to make more of a companion piece to the earlier incarnation than a true remake--in such a way as to allow the story unfold gradually. Details are revealed only when they need to come to light, the overall atmosphere is one of mystery and foreboding, though the film certainly delights in providing the occasional amuse-bouche to tantalize viewers with what is to come.
The success or failure of such an atmospheric, deliberately-paced effort largely fell to the talent tapped to portray the Parker family, and they did the vision proud. As the family’s patriarch, Frank Parker, Bill Sage does an exceptional job of radiating authority and fanaticism in every frame. Meanwhile, Julia Garner and Ambyr Childers are pitch-perfect as his daughters, Rose and Iris, respectively.
In that same interview, Mickle related his hope that the film would appeal to genre fans, as well as those who are not normally inclined to take in a horror flick. “We Are What We Are” certainly has the potential to do so. The film’s style and structure are at turns much more evocative of a high-brow drama than your garden variety slasher flick.
To reveal additional details would be a disservice to the experience Mickle aims to create, so suffice it to say that “We Are What We Are” is an exercise in restraint, and in that restraint it allows the viewer’s imagination to run wild, taking the macabre intensity to the next level.