We Are What We Are

cast: Adrián Aguirre, Miriam Balderas, Francisco Barreiro, and Carmen Beato

director: Jorge Michel Grau

92 minutes (18) 2010
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Chelsea DVD Region 2

RATING: 4/10
review by A.E. Grace

We Are What We Are

When I saw the word ‘cannibals’ in the description for this movie, I was pretty darn stoked. I am a fan of delightfully crappy horror movies, so the thought of getting a nice little film about flesh eaters to add to my collection of indie horror films was pretty cool. Unfortunately, We Are What We Are didn’t cut it. My shameless puns aside, I did have high hopes for this piece. It’s had some good feedback from what I consider to be good sources, and the movie’s overall appearance seemed quite promising.

However, if I was to tell you that this was a film about cannibals who do not actually prepare, cook, or eat any human flesh at all, you’d feel let down right? Well, so did I… The film depicts three teenagers and their mother living in present-day Mexico, who are forced to make ends meet by themselves when the patriarch of the family dies. Throughout the story, two brothers – typically polar opposites in nature – fight against one another for the gruesome job of ‘hunting’ down the family chow.

Meanwhile, a couple of cops are hot on their trail, Jules and Vincent style, trying to catch the cannibals before they butcher any more prostitutes. All’s well and good at the beginning. The opening had an interesting death scene, silent, prolonged and tragic, which really captured my attention. And old man stumbles through a shopping mall and collapses, all alone, before literally being swept away and wiped up by the cleaning team. The musical score throughout was dramatic and stayed true to its culture, and the acting was of a very good standard throughout.

Sadly, that’s where the appeal ends. The movie seems to have been more focused on the family drama, which is excellent, but it only ever skimmed the surface. We never truly see the insides of them, and it felt like the audience is merely witnessing a moment in time as opposed to the unfolding of a story. The characters constantly talk of ‘the rite’, some sort of ritual involving the cannibalism, but never actually reveal what this is – neither through images or dialogue. We’re kept in the dark. It appears the writer was so deeply informed he’d forgotten to deliver the key information to the audience, which is a darn fatal mistake in cinema. So what kept me watching, you ask? Well, there was some pretty cool brutality, if gore’s your thing. Too much gore, in fact. The mother slammed her garden spade into so many heads I began to wonder if she was preparing some sort of human Kentucky-bucket.

But really, it was the subtitles which grasped my attention. The dialogue was so poorly translated they had me in hysterics! Never have I witnessed such a terrible series of subtitles in my life, and I’m not even sure who’s to blame. It could be that the film benefits far more from being viewed by a Mexican audience, but I’m afraid this flat-liner of a movie didn’t impress this chica. Subtitles aside, the text lacked substance and depth. There was no sense of urgency, my emotions weren’t invested and it was consistently lacklustre over all.