Being a horror movie junky, every year I try to catch as many of the Park City at Midnight screenings as I can. While they’re not always gold, they’re usually at least a bit more fun. But for every Tucker and Dale vs. Evil you have to sit through something like The Pact or Troll Hunter. Over the years, I’ve also managed to catch The Descent and the original Saw (yes, that series came out of Sundance for better and worse). This year, I managed to catch four – We Are What We Are, S-VHS, In Fear, and Virtually Heroes. Three of these were good to fantastic, while one never managed to hit the bullseye.
The best of the bunch is director/co-writer Jim Mickle’s We Are What We Are — a companion piece to Jorge Michel Grau’s original, rather than an out-and-out remake. After their mother drowns in a puddle during a rainstorm, a family has to decide what to do for food. Daughters Iris (Ambyr Childers) and Rose (Julia Garner), under the ruling thumb of patriarch Frank (Bill Sage), pick up the responsibilities while the youngest Rory (Jack Gore) is still literally just a child.
With a storm growing, bones are starting to show up in the river behind the family’s house. Meanwhile, local medical examiner Doc Barrow (Michael Parks) is suspicious about the death of his own child after he realizes that mother Parker was suffering from kuru, a Parkinson’s type disease associated with eating certain types of meat. Now the family must deal with the consequences of their actions both on the outside world and at home. Mickle and co-writer Nick Damici (also playing the role of Sheriff Meeks) bring a brilliant slow burn to the proceedings and an ending that will knock your socks off. Sage is terrifying as the tyrannical father, Childers effortlessly plays a young girl way out of her comfort zone, and Garner really gives us something to chew on once she finally lets her hair down.