With the Sundance Film Festival kicking off, it was fun to revisit Jim Mickle’s We Are What We Are — a companion piece/remake of Jorge Michel Grau’s film Somos lo que hay — which I covered at last year’s festival. A slow burn film if there ever was one, Mickle has a way of turning genre conventions on its head while relishing whichever topic he’s tackling. From zombies in Mulberry St. to vampires in Stake Land, We Are What We Are brings us a story of a family of cannibals the likes we’ve never seen. And now, We Are What We Are was finally released on DVD from Entertainment One on January 7.
The Parker family has just lost their patriarch Emma (Kassie DePaiva, Evil Dead II’s Bobby Joe to you and me) when she drowns. Now, daughters Iris (Ambyr Childers) and Rose (Julia Garner) are forced to pick up the slack. Meanwhile, their father Frank (Bill Sage) must find a way to carry on the family traditions. Outside, a storm has brought on a flood causing human bones to begin washing up in the creeks nearby the Parker’s house. Soon enough, Doc Barrow (Michael Parks) realizes that the Parkers’ mother was suffering from a rare form of Kuru Disease (linked to cannibalism in Papua New Guinea), and begins to wonder if the disappearance of his own daughter — along with at least 29 other people over the last 20 years — may have something to do with the Parker clan.
We Are What We Are comes with a healthy supply of special features. An audio commentary features co-writer/director Mickle, co-writer Nick Damici (who also plays Sheriff Meeks in the film), cinematographer Ryan Samul, along with Julia Garner and Bill Sage. Informative, enlightening, and sometimes hilarious, the group reminisces about the production and offer up lots of anecdotes; a surprisingly fun listen if you’ve already watched the film.
“An Acquired Taste: The Making of We Are What We Are” runs 55 minutes and is a behind-the-scenes peek at what it’s like to work on a film shoot. From setting up cameras to lunch breaks, everything is covered from the first day of the shoot to the last. A set of “Interviews” runs 16 minutes featuring Mickle, Sage, and Garner. As with the audio commentary, these are very fun and informative. I think these low-budget productions always tend to ramp up everyone’s enthusiasm and at least this time it’s for a deserving film.
Everything I said in my original review still holds true: Mickle and Damici bring a brilliant slow burn to the proceedings and an ending that will knock your socks off. The final 20 minutes are unrelenting. Sage is terrifying as the tyrannical father, Childers effortlessly plays a young girl way out of her comfort zone while trying to keep traditions alive, and Garner really gives us something to chew on once she figuratively, and literally, lets her hair down.
During the interviews, Mickle says, “I kind of live by the idea you make movies that you think you’d want to see and trust that there’s enough other weirdos out there that have similar sensibilities.” Well, I am proud to admit that I am one of those weirdos and can’t wait to catch Mickle’s Sundance offering this year (Cold in July with Michael C. Hall), and anything else he has coming down the pipeline. We Are What We Are is more than a companion piece to the original; it’s a new horror classic in its own right, that should not be missed.