Writers: Jim Mickle, Nick Damici, Jorge Michel Grau (original version only)
Cast: Bill Sage, Julia Garner, Ambyr Childers, Michael Parks, Rory Gore, Kelly McGillis
Running time: 105mins
The lowdown: Dinner is reheated in this American remake of the excellent 2010 Mexican original. Stakeland director Jim Mickle keeps the premise of a cannibal family fighting to stay together in the modern world, but the terrifying sprawl of Mexico City is here replaced with a backwater town, losing the original’s satirical bite. The cast are uniformly good, the photography strikingly handsome, but the omnipresent rain seems to have seeped into the script itself, leaving everything a little soggy.
The full verdict: Full marks to writer/director Jim Mickle and co-writer Nick Damici for realising a remake has to bring something fresh to the table.
Inverting the original movie, the widowed mother, her two sons and their young daughter are replaced by a brooding dad, his two daughters and a pre-pubescent lad.
Bill Sage chills the bone as the dad, trailer park owner Frank Parker, forcing his family to honour a generations old tradition of feeding on human flesh.
As another ritual feast approaches, cracks begin to show between Frank and his two daughters Rose and Iris (Garner and Childers) and son Rory (Gore). And the attentions of town doctor Barrow (Tarantino favourite Parks), grieving the disappearance of his daughter years earlier, could not come at a worse time.
Heavy on atmosphere and with a roster of fine performances (including Kelly McGillis as a kindly neighbour), We Are What We Are still suffers the same remake malady that blighted Let Me In.
Namely, gutting the original of all but the bare bones of its story but not replacing it with anything substantial results in a shrug of a movie.
Barrow’s plodding investigation and unimaginative origin explaining flashback are no match for the Mexican version’s social sting that the authorities will turn a blind eye to murder as long as the poor are the ones dying.
Only a water motif that runs literally throughout, uncovering secrets rather than washing away sins, and the climactic grisly banquet you feel would meet with approval from the original’s director Jorge Michel Grau.
Not totally unappetising, but little to really chew on.