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Review - We Are What We Are (Somos lo que hay) (15)

Lauren Steadman finds a feel-good movie for 2010. About cannibalism.

Published on November 11th 2010.


Review - We Are What We Are (Somos lo que hay) (15)

If you’re the kind of horror film fan who finds yourself rooting for the demons, We Are What We Are could be right up your dark alley.

Set in modern-day Mexico, it’s a touching tale of people struggling to make ends meet – by making friends meat.

Cannibalism is a way of life for siblings Sabina, Alfredo and Julian – but their dad does all the dirty work. When he dies suddenly, his luckless offspring embark on a series of inept executions to maintain a grisly family ritual.

Human flesh is central to the rites their mother insists will save them all from destitution – but could their bond be the biggest casualty?

Part thriller, part domestic drama, We Are What We Are lacks the blood and body count of mainstream Hollywood but makes up for it with characters the audience might actually care for. While gore is inevitable in a picture about eating people, it’s handled with admirable restraint in favour of exploring the family’s increasingly strained relationships.

First-time director Jorge Michel Grau makes great use of shadowy camerawork and sinister sound effects, with much of the most gruesome action happening off-screen. It’s unnerving rather than terrifying, and gently paced for a horror film. Yet some scenes are genuinely sinister.

The chilling opening sequence is briefly reminiscent of George A. Romero’s Dawn of the Dead as Dad shuffles, dying, though a shopping mall.

He cuts a shambolic figure, perhaps explaining why his corpse is whisked away soon after his demise.

Death on the streets is portrayed as an everyday event, with Mexico’s real-life woes frequently referenced.

Corrupt cops, poverty and prostitution are portrayed, but don’t detract from the deliciously dark central plot – this is a film to have fun with.

Lauren Steadman

7/10

We Are What We Are runs at the Cornerhouse from Friday, 12 Nov

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