Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Movie Review: We Are What We Are (2010)

Wow. I didn't know cannibals could be so boring. I had such high hopes for this Mexican horror-drama-thing after reading about it but it turned out to be quite slow and uninspiring, something that has all the potential in the world but somewhere makes a giant misstep.

After their patriarch dies suddenly, a poor family of cannibals try to figure out who will lead them in their rituals of kidnapping and eating people. Meanwhile, two city police officers are hot on the family's trail.

So again, yeah, We Are What We Are should have had it all. It should have been dark, gritty, and deeply disturbing with the gruesome subject matter that it promises. Instead it is way too tame and safe. The movie never takes the story by the balls and tries to go for it. It takes baby steps to the edge of the chasm instead of jumping into it, and if it it had, the movie could have been so much better.

Even the title promises more than the movie actually delivers. The family consists of the mother and father (who dies in the first scene of the movie in a mall after puking up some black stuff... ew) and three teenage children - Alfredo, Julian, and Sabina. The father is a watchmaker and fixer and is the sole provider for the family. "We Are What We Are" implies that this family has had to resort to cannibalism in a desperate attempt to survive (why the three able-bodied children can't go out and work is never explained but whatever) and also implies that they perhaps have no shame about what they do. Is any of this explored? Nope. Not a bit.

The actors are good enough in their roles and certainly could have handled darker and more outlandish material. The girl playing Sabina is best of them all, as her eyes convey so much intensity even when she's not saying anything at all. That final shot of her at the end is just fantastic and she milks the moment for all it's worth. The boy playing the eldest son, Alfredo, is also good as the one who reluctantly tries to take his father's place to the dismay of the other, more violent and capable son, Julian. This sibling rivalry takes over many of the scenes when this part wasn't really all that interesting and just became more boring as time went on.

What also brings the movie down a lot is the story of the two cops hunting the family down. They first show up when the coroner presents them with a human finger found in the dead father's stomach (which eerily doesn't shock them or anyone else in the least) and then they spend the rest of the movie acting like the most incompetent bunch of nitwits I've ever seen. They sleep in their cars, stumble across a crime scene without calling for help, and of course, allow themselves to get killed in the most embarrassing ways - well, embarrassing for them because they're cops and they should have freaking known better.

Now comes the horror part of this horror movie - the all-important gore factor. Survey says that We Are What We Are is also fairly tame in this aspect which is another sad disappointment. These people are cannibals, so we should be treated to some awesome scenes of them butchering and eating people, yeah? Again, no, not really. There's only one butchering scene and though it is done well, there's not really much to see. The blood looks good and the scene has a very dingy, realistic feel which sets the mood wonderfully. However, I wanted more. I wanted more action and more gore and they just did not give it to me.

So though the look of We Are What We Are is decent and is well shot, edited, and acted, the viewer can't help but feel like there's something missing here. Maybe the filmmakers were going for a more dramatic, quieter tale of cannibalism and family strife but had they gone further and really shown us the disturbing and gross side of this family's story, it would have been so much more effective. I liked it to a point and it's a beautiful movie but it just wasn't as great as I expected.


  1. YES, fully agree with you. Too tedious, too boring, too tame and every single character is completely unlikable. A shame.

  2. I hate when movies look so good but when you actually watch them, they're crap. A total buzz kill. I hope you had a great Christmas! :D

  3. TYVM for the review! Saves me downloading and then getting pissed off even tho I'm seeing it for free! LOL