The Parker family manage to keep to themselves in a rural town, never attracting attention, and never bothering their one close neighbour. When Emma (Kassie DePaiva), the mother of the family, collapses and dies in town, the Parker family begins to fall apart. Frank (Bill Sage), the father, has trouble coping with the loss of his wife, especially since she was the person who maintained the families disturbing secret. They’re cannibals, and Emma would prepare their yearly meal as part of their strange tradition. The job now falls to eldest daughter Iris (Ambyr Childers), who, along with sister Rose (Julia Garner), struggle to decide if it’s time to disobey their tradition, and end this strange ritual.
Although this is supposed to be a remake of the 2010 Mexican film of the same name (review here), the two films share very little in common beyond the title, and the theme of cannibalism. Director Jim Mickle does an incredible job presenting the slowly crumbling family, as their traditions are threatened, and their secret comes closer to being revealed.
Ambyr Childers and Julia Garner have intense, perfectly subtle performances as the daughters of the family. Balancing somewhere in between the urge to break free of the family tradition, and the obligation to carry it on, they are the driving force of the movie. Equally impressive is Bill Sage, as father Frank. He rules his family with his voice alone, and makes for a terribly frightening figure.
If the movie falters at any point, it’s the startling ending. It seems to come from out of nowhere, and doesn’t exactly fit with what has come before. At first, it may not really make sense for viewers, but after a little time has passed, it becomes clear. Of course, discussing it will only ruin things, so viewers just need to be aware that it may be a bit odd at first.
Pace may be another challenge for some viewers, as the film moves incredibly slow at first. Bits and pieces of the story are revealed at an almost sluggish pace, but this really adds to the disintegration of the family unit. Frank becomes more unstable as the film moves along, and his secret starts to come out in the open. The slow progression works to build some very uncomfortable tension though, which finally leads to an explosive ending, providing a release for everyone watching.
Should You Watch We Are What We Are?
Absolutely. The film is stunning on many fronts, from the visual style to the amazing performances, and makes for an incredibly smart, and occasionally shocking film.