Friday, October 4, 2013

Jason watches WE ARE WHAT WE ARE

Thanks to Midnites 4 Maniacs, I got to see a special sneak preview of this slow-burn gothic drama-thriller-horror film. And I put them in that order. I think it's primarily a carefully crafted drama. The Parkers, led by father Frank (a wonderfully, quietly creepy Bill Sage) secretly live by "old customs." And they bury the...evidence of their customs in the woods near the creek that runs by their remote house. Daughters Rose and Iris (some flowers have thorns) are...conflicted about their customs.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. In the opening scenes we see the mother collapse in front of a grocery store. Frank never let her go to see a doctor, and he opposes an autopsy now, for reasons that become obvious soon enough. That and a torrential flood that unearths some incriminating evidence is going to threaten their old customs, and force Rose and Iris to take on responsibilities beyond their years.

There are plenty of gruesome horror elements, and a few frights that can actually make you jump. But the meat (sorry, I had to...that's not technically a spoiler, is it?) of the movie is the acting and the slow, steady, tense burn. A horror movie for thinkers...thinkers who like gore.

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Update on October 8, 2013. Apparently I had actually seen the Mexican movie that this was based on, I just completely forgot about it. That was back at Indiefest 2011 and here's what I wrote about it at the time:
It's an earnest family drama, a story of grief and struggles after the father dies. Not that he was a great man, but he did provide. Now there are power struggles, mother vs. sons, sons vs. each other, a daughter who seems to be the only one with a solid head on her shoulders. It's also a story about coming out of the closet. Oh yeah, and it's got cannibalism, whores, inept cops, and (for some reason) lots and lots of clocks. But let's go back to the cannibalism and whores. If I described this as a movie about cannibals vs. prostitutes, it would be completely accurate and totally misleading. It isn't the exploitation elements that are the driving force behind the movie, it's the drama and the characters. And of course, that tricks you into caring about the cannibals for reasons completely unrelated to their rituals. Brilliantly done, and very funny.
Well, the obvious difference is that the American remake is gender reversed. It's the mother, not the father who dies in the beginning. It's daughters, not sons, who fight with each other and with their father (not mother.) Also the importance of clocks wasn't so prevalent. Same with whores. No whores in this one. And I'm not sure what I meant by "very funny." The remake is certainly not a comedy, and I kind of doubt the original was meant to be. That might be a product of my sick sense of humor, or maybe the American version is more of a tense drama and the Mexican version actually had some comic elements.

Running Time: 105 minutes
My Total Minutes: 337,838
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