We Are What We Are - reviews of 'superb' Gothic horror film

Feb 28, 2014

Clever American retelling of bleak Mexican cannibal story 'grips from start to finish', say critics

What you need to know

American Gothic horror movie We Are What We Are is released in UK cinemas today. The film, directed by Jim Mickle (Stake Land) is an English language remake of a Mexican horror film of the same name.

Set in grim small-town America, the story focuses on the mysterious and highly religious Parker family. When the matriarch dies, reluctant teenage daughters Iris and Rose are forced to assume the family's grisly ancient traditions. But as flood waters rise, the local authorities begin to uncover clues to the Parker family's grim secrets.

Stars Bill Sage, Michael Parks, Julia Garner and Amber Childers.

What the critics like

It's "a crunching, visceral transplant of the cannibal tale from its urban Mexican setting to an American milieu", says Kim Newman in Empire. An intense shocker with outstanding performances from Bill Sage as a sly cannibal patriarch and Michael Parks as the concerned local doctor.

This is a refreshingly mature and rare modern horror movie that doesn't rely on a bag of postproduction tricks but uses "a bracing command of traditional suspense tools, foreboding atmosphere, methodical plotting and finely etched characters", says David Rooney in the Hollywood Reporter. The film grips from start to finish, offering a slyly subversive reflection on clans who impose their diseased thinking from one generation to the next.

"A superb grief-soaked horror set in a desperate, godless universe", We Are What We Are is unnerving and moving in equal measures, easily eclipsing the original, says Matt Glasby on Total Film. Although exceptionally bleak, this is one of the best recent genre films – dripping with quality, among other things.

What they don't like

It is a strange, and in some ways daring film, says Nick Hasted on the Arts Desk. But it just isn't realistic or deranged enough to grab you by the throat and "unlike dinner with the Parkers, it leaves you wanting more".

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