Saturday, 24 November 2012

We Are What We Are (2010)

A number of years ago, a little Mexican movie called Cronos came along and gave fans a wonderful and unique vampire movie. Well, someone else from Mexico has come along now and given fans a fantastic and unique cannibal movie. Okay, it may not be all THAT unique from start to finish but it certainly couches the grisly subject matter in a way that allows it to feel enjoyably refreshing.

This is not a movie for gorehounds so bear that in mind before you go running off to get your cannibal fix (as in a fix of cannibal movie fun and not a repair from a cannibal). Writer-director Jorge Michel Grau has crafted something that's arguably more disturbing because of the way that the cannibalistic need to eat human flesh is shown as the main defining aspect of a fairly dysfunctional family.

Alfredo (Francisco Barreiro) and Julian (Alan Chavez) are two very different brothers. Alfredo is the older of the two and tries to do his bit whenever he is required to help the family while Julian is hotheaded and not nearly as caring for his loved ones. This is all clarified when the two boys have to cover the family market stall. There is no sign of their father, who makes a living repairing watches, so they go along for the morning until Julian gets into a fight and they are told that they must stop trading at the market. When they get home the boys are told by their sister, Sabina (Paulina Gaitan), that their father has died. This is slightly upsetting for all concerned, and especially for their mother (Carmen Beato), but the biggest problem for the family is just where their next meal is going to come from. Their father would provide them with victims for cannibalistic rituals. Alfredo is told he will have to step up and fill the role but it's not exactly an easy task.

All of the actors involved here do a great job, and there are is a sub-plot involving a couple of police officers (played by Daniel Gimenez Cacho and Jorge Zarate) trying to solve the case, but the real beauty of We Are What We Are lies in the fact that the cannibalism is almost secondary to the other problems that the main characters have. Almost.

Sabina may seem to be the most well-adjusted of the group but it quickly becomes clear just how well she could step into the matriarchal role to ensure that the family is safe while Alfredo and Julian never appear to be in control of their own destiny. As for the mother, it's hard to discern whether she has been driven mad by years of brainwashing or whether she was the one who led the whole family down the path to cannibalism. Whatever the case, she certainly grows more and more desperate as more time passes without the next meal becoming available.

Quietly impressive from start to finish, when the end credits rolled I then began to formulate my thoughts for this review and realised that I'd just watched a new favourite. I'm not sure if I would easily recommend it to most horror fans, I just know that I loved it.


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