‘We Are’ walks a fine horror, art house line

  • By Robert Horton Herald Movie Critic
  • Wednesday, October 9, 2013 6:21pm
  • LifeGo-See-Do

I keep mis-remembering the title “We Are What We Are” as “We Are What We Eat.” And it seems that’s not so far off.

Spoilers allowing, maybe we can get to an explanation. In the meantime, this supremely creepy film finds a groove between arty horror and throttle-out craziness.

Director Jim Mickle, who did a cool job with the vampire movie “Stake Land,” adapted this one from a 2010 Mexican movie. He and co-writer Nick Damici have considerably changed the story around, and set it in the backcountry of the U.S. Northeast.

Our focus is a reclusive family, whose world is rocked when the mother dies suddenly in an accident, during a rainstorm of biblical proportions.

The patriarch (Bill Sage, an underrated actor) runs his household according to what appears to be a long-standing religious cult. He informs his teenage daughters that they must take over their mother’s duties during an annual family ceremony, due this week.

The daughters are played by two excellent young actresses, Julia Garner and Ambyr Childers. They somehow convey the watchful edginess of children who have grown up in an atmosphere that is both unspeakable but also normal life — for them.

We hold out hope that someone will interrupt this dire situation: the local doctor (the marvelous character actor Michael Parks), a helpful neighbor (Kelly McGillis), a local deputy (Wyatt Russell) with a sweet spot for the oldest daughter.

If Wyatt Russell — who has a nice understated style — looks familiar, it’s because he’s channeling the genes inherited from his parents, Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn.

“We Are What We Are” is low-wattage for quite a while, with just enough foreboding (why are human bones washing up in the river near the family home? Why does the doctor say they’ve been cooked in a pot?) to make us stick around.

What isn’t quite expected is how the movie goes for blood-soaked Grand Guignol in its final sequences. I am guessing this film will please neither hardcore horror fans (too slow) nor art house mavens (too grisly). But it certainly is its own thing.

“We Are What We Are” (three stars)

A reclusive family practices the rituals of its own religious cult — an unsettling situation given a very slow build-up in this unusual movie. It’s probably too slow for hardcore horror fans and too grisly for art house mavens, but director Jim Mickle has made something distinctive here.

Rated: R for violence, nudity, subject matter.

Showing: Varsity.

Talk to us

More in Life

Siblings Qingyun, left, and Ruoyun Li, 12 and 13, respectively, are together on campus at Everett Community College on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2023, in Everett, Washington. The two are taking a full course load at the community college this semester. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Siblings, age 12 and 13, are youngest students at EvCC campus

Qingyun Li was 11 when he scored a perfect 36 on the ACT test. His sister, Ruoyun, was one point away.

A family walks through the Wintertide lights Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022, at Legion Park in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Wintertide Lights returns for the month of December in Everett

The free family event is open nightly at Evergreen Arboretum and Gardens in Legion Park.

Leslie Davis, left, and Lyndsay Lamb, stars of "Unsellable Houses." (Rachael Jones / HGTV)
‘Unsellable Houses’ seeks flippable Snohomish County homes for Season 5

Leslie Davis and Lyndsay Lamb are searching for homeowners for next season’s one-hour episodes, where houses go from stagnant to sold.

Collius_boys.jpg: Carolea’s father Collius (Jay Jenkins, center) has selected Ambrosius (Ian Wight, right) as his choice for his daughter, but she is in love with Nectarean (Josias Allestad) in Red Curtain’s production of “A MidWinter Night’s Dream,” Dec. 1-23.
Music, theater and more: What’s happening in Snohomish County

”A Midwinter Night’s Dream” opens Friday at Red Curtain Arts Center in Marysville.

2024 Hyundai Kona Limited FWD (Hyundai)
2024 Hyundai Kona Limited FWD

The Hyundai Kona Limited has been updated for the 2024 model year, but thankfully, retains its quirkiness.

Early 20th century Puffy lamps don’t need to be on to brighten up a room

With three-dimensional designs painted on the shade, lamps like this don’t need darkness to provide decorative value.

Great Plant Pick: Heritage birch

also called white bark river birch, or betula… Continue reading

The 2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness comes with raised ladder-type roof rails and Yokohama Geolandar all-terrain tires. (Subaru)
2024 Subaru Crosstrek Wilderness gives the compact more capability

Upgraded suspension, 9.3 inches of ground clearance and a reengineered drivetrain are among the changes.

The Vienna State Opera hosts performances in the evening and tours during the day. (Dominic Arizona Bonuccelli)
Rick Steves’ Europe: Exploring the musical soul of Austria

In Vienna, there are always plenty of ways to enjoy great music … on any budget.

Della Terra, a Snohomish farm-to-table catering business, is offering a full Thanksgiving meal with hearty Pacific Northwest entrees, seasonal sides and a farmers market salad. (Joanna Monger Photography)
The comforting and important rituals of giving thanks

I hope you took some time this Thanksgiving, between helpings of turkey and mashed potatoes, to consider what you appreciate and value in your life.

Sisters Greta, Willow and Solana Gothard have been playing music together since childhood, expanding from early violin lessons to playing guitar, mandolin, djembe, bodhran and more alongside vocal harmonies. 

The new album “A Celtic Christmas” is the sisters’ 10th, featuring a selection of traditional carols rendered in the band’s signature, ethereal style.  (Knecht Creative)
Home for the holidays with the Gothard Sisters

The Edmonds trio brings tidings of Celtic comfort and joy with a new Christmas album and concert

He had to clean his Airbnb. Can he get the cleaning fee back?

Tyson Love’s Airbnb is a mess. Worse, the company will only refund $14 of his rental fee, even though he bought cleaning supplies and cleaned the rental himself. Is that fair?

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.