- Running time:
- 90 minutes
- Francisco Barreiro -
- Alán Chávez -
- Paulina Gaitan -
- Carmen Beato -
- Jorge Zárate -
After the patriarch of a family of Mexican cannibals passes away, leadership duties pass to the eldest son (Francisco Barreiro), who feels ill-equipped to provide for his younger brother (Alan Chávez), sister (Paulina Gaitán) and deranged mother (Carmen Beato).
The verdict: A visually striking debut for writer-director Jorge Michel Grau, who proves he has the chops for atmospheric horror even when his pretentious storytelling tendencies undermine the end result. From “Sweeney Todd” to “The Hills Have Eyes” to Hannibal Lecter, cinematic portrayals of cannibalism have been so far removed from reality you’d never imagine the action happening in your city. That makes the outwardly normal family of “We Are What We Are” all the more chilling. They could live anywhere. However, the film is clearly designed as satiric criticism of Mexico’s extreme violence and organizational corruption. Grau appears so intent to deliver messages, he neglects to explore the characters beyond their tastefully-handled bloodthirsty behavior. We get teases of the siblings’ sexual kinks and the mother’s obsession with performing the family “ritual,” but “We Are” winds up on the wrong side of the line dividing enigmatic and frustrating. When it comes to arthouse horror, “We Are” can’t match the haunting “Let the Right One In,” and pales next to the bizarre family portrait of “Dogtooth.” Still, genre fans will want to keep an eye on where Grau goes from here.
[“We Are What We Are” is also available through “IFC In Theaters,” a video on demand service from select cable providers.]
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