Tuesday, October 16, 2012
We Are What We Are (2010) Horror Cannibals
We Are What We Are (2010) - "Somos lo que hay" Although I said I wanted to avoid cannibal movies for awhile, this small little film comes my way and gets me back in. What is good about this film is the scope. It is not really about cannibalism but more about dealing with a crisis and defining new roles when things go wrong in an organization. I know that doesn't tell you much so let me explain the plot a bit.
The film is about a family of cannibals living in a Mexican city. They have set rolls with the elder father, wife, two sons and a daughter. All the children are teens or older the eldest son Alfredo (Francisco Barreiro) is a bit shy and questioning his sexuality, the younger son Julian (Alan Chavez) is stronger but hot headed, the manipulative but strong daughter Sabina (Paulina Gaitan) who will do what ever it takes to survive. Patricia (Carmen Beato) the mother, seems a hurt older wife who is displeased with her spouse as he is unreliable and his behavior repulsive to her. The father (Humberto Yanez) an older man who does all the "hunting" for the family focuses primarily on prostitutes. By being a John to them it is easy to lure them to a place where he can subdue them and bring them back as food for the family. Although his wife does not like this aspect and frowns on eating "whores" when you see the old man in the beginning of the film it makes perfect sense why this is how he does it.
In fact you only see the father in the opening scene as he stumbles through a mall before collapsing and dying of a heart attack. (Obviously too much red meat). This event leaves the family in a crisis, with the need to feed only a few days away the family has to figure out who will provide. There is trouble beyond just a family meeting though. None of the teen children have ever hunted and Patricia seems to be in a funk. Sitting quietly mourning in her own little world while the children discuss what to do next. If Mom was more approachable thing could probably be worked out but with the leadership vacuum there is politicking to do.
The natural order of things would normally have been to have the oldest son take the reins. The timid Alfredo though is to scared to step up. Sabina seems like a hand of strength but her role as a girl in their society leave her only the opportunity to influence from behind the scenes. She maneuvers Alfredo trying to sure up his confidence about being the family's next provider. Julian, she says is to callous and hot headed and would get the family caught by making a mistake. Sabina is a good judge of character and is right on about both young men. The imperative to organize comes from the mentioned three days until they need to do the "ritual" and feed. It is never clear what the ritual is other than a sacrifice nor what will happen if it does not happen but it is implied with tone and urgency that something bad will happen. This setup left me wanting to know more but it is strategically held back.
Alfredo and Julian work together on the problem and first decide grabbing one of the city's many street kids may be something they can pull off. Unfortunately for them the packs of kids stick together and they fail in a really embarrassing manner leaving their confidence shaken and raising the specter that they may fail at getting a subject. So plan B is to do what their father did and get a prostitute. They know their mother will not be happy about this but they can not see another option. When they successfully bring a girl home Sabina starts some of the preparations for the ritual. Unfortunately Mom comes out of her stupor and realizes that her sons have done the things she hated about her husband. She freaks out and kills the girl in what is not an acceptable way. (No Ritual , no meat?) Suddenly the family is back to square one and time is running out.
The dynamics of the family makes this pretty compelling, the Mother does not see her children as anything more than that. At the same time she does not want to be back in the pattern her former husband created and she so disliked. So she scolds the boys and to make sure that they can never get near the prostitutes again to acquire a victim, she takes the dead prostitute back to the street corner making sure they all see her family and threatening them. Culture dictates that the oldest son inherits the leadership mantle but he has yet to find his way. Sabina who is supposedly powerless in this structure does what she can by wielding power behind the scenes. Still there is also a competitiveness with her Mother.
A duel storyline comes out of this last incident, Patricia not seeing her sons as providers takes matters into her own hands. She seduces a taxi driver with sex and lures him back to the apartment. At the same time Alfredo is fighting through his sexuality question while trying to figure out the best way for his hunt to happen. He finds his way by seducing a young man and also bringing him back to the apartment. All the while the ineffective police force is closing in on the family. The family has made enough noise that they are finally getting noticed. The three groups come together around the same time in a climax that is worth the time invested in this film. The choices at that point are dictated by the circumstances and Alfredo I have to say steps up and makes a sacrifice I was not expecting. Good for him.
Like I said in the beginning this is a small film and so if you are expecting explosions and special effects you will be sorely disappointed. This is more of a family drama where the family is a cannibal group. The payoff would have been better if we saw the effects of not feeding, or more about the ritual, maybe some back story on how this family came to be. Still it played out well and left us with an image at the end that I thought was very effective. I will definitely recommend this film.
Rating (6.1) 5.0 are recommended, some more recommended than others.