Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Film Review: We Are What We Are (2013)

We Are What We Are (Review)
United States/2013
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...the drama may be good on its own, but it never really compliments the horror."

After the mysterious death of their mother, Rose (Julia Garner) and Iris Parker (Ambyr Childers) are forced to fill her shoes by their controlling father, Frank Parker (Bill Sage), who intends on keeping their family's sinister traditions alive...

We Are What We Are is a film that is likely more effective if you know less before watching -- so, I'll keep the plot details at a minimal. The film mostly follows Rose and Iris, and their family, over the course of a long weekend. Iris, being the oldest, is given the responsibilities of their late mother. And, those responsibilities turn out to be much more sinister than expected. We see how the family operates and soon find out why they are so reclusive and isolated. Meanwhile, a storm begins to flood their town, sending what seem to be human bones downstream, consequently sparking an investigation from the local coroner. We Are What We Are leads to a dark and bloody yet satisfying climax -- an unexpected ending.

We Are What We Are isn't a traditional horror film. Instead, the film is more like a drama-horror hybrid, much like The Exorcist and Bug, but less effective. Despite being a remake of a film I've never seen, the plot is at least original. The first two acts of the film are dramatic and character-based, really working on creating the situation at hand; all in all, it works well as a drama. I think the main issue of the film is it feels so slow but lacks the burn needed to make the pace effective. Also, although the bulk of the film works as a drama, some of it is forgettable and ineffective, almost making it feel a bit uneventful. So, the drama may be good on its own, but it never really compliments the horror. That is, until the final act where the pace builds up, the suspense becomes dreadful, and the climax delivers a devastating blow -- I really enjoyed the ending. I don't think the first two acts really did justice to the final act -- their good, but the buildup, the suspense, and even horror really isn't there.

The acting is great from the entire cast. Bill Sage has a smaller role than expected, but he does the role well and effective; he's a believable recluse and religion fanatic, unlike Julianne Moore laughable performance in the Carrie remake. Ambyr Childers also does well. I think Julia Garner really outshined the rest of the cast with a much more dedicated performance, though; really looks like she put a lot into the role. The cinematography is great, the film looks beautiful. The score is a bit more subtle, but it helps build the ominous atmosphere. Director Jim Mickle does well in creating the drama for the film; but, Mickle fails to blend the genres seamlessly, unfortunately.

Overall, We Are What We Are is a great film, but I do recommend you stray away from spoilers and adjust your expectations a bit. As a drama-horror hybrid, both the drama and horror are effective on their own, but they don't quite blend as well as they could've -- if they did blend well, you'd have a terrifying experience, like The Exorcist or Bug, both masterful horror-drama hybrids in my eyes. A film with few technical flaws, We Are What We Are only really suffers only in failing to exceed those that came before it.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood, some sex.

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