Monday, 9 May 2011

We Are What We Are

Sunday roast any one?

I suppose must of us will go to some lengths to make sure we provide food for our loved ones. Mexican born director and writer Jorge Michel Grau debut feature film We Are What We Are (2010) shown as part of the Dumfries Film Festival 2011, takes this most basic obligation to extreme lengths.
Strong willed Sabina.

In the pre-credit sequence we see a middle-aged man in a shopping mall, he’s obviously in extreme agony, he’s vomiting some strange dark liquid, he collapses to the floor and he dies. Within seconds two men drag him off and the vomit is cleaned away, almost as though he has never existed! Who was this rather bedraggled person? We soon find out that he has left a widow, two sons and a daughter, destitute. The devastated family is confronted not only with their loss but also with a terrible challenge - how are they to survive? This rather dysfunctional family have always existed on a diet of human flesh consumed in some bloody ritual ceremony and the father, God rest his soul, has always provided their meal which to date has consisted of social outcasts like prostitutes, easy prey whilst plying there trade on the streets of Mexico City.
Now that their breadwinner has gone what will they do, who will become head of the family? Will it be Alfredo (Francisco Barreiro) the withdrawn somewhat reserved son, or will it be his hot headed brother Julian (Alan Chávez) perhaps the strong willed Sabina (Paulina Gaitán) could take charge or maybe their viciously brutal mother Patricia (Carmen Beato)? But the only thing that’s certain is without human meat the family will die.

Laced with very dark humor this “social realism” horror movie deals with family disintegration, social deprivation and violence and its relationship within the family unit. Grau attempts to reflect anarchic social and economic problems of present day Mexico suggesting that a cannibal family can stay hidden in the heart of a big bustling but anonymous modern day city. The gore element is never over done, most of which takes place behind a defused plastic curtain. The muted cinematography adds to the overall mood of the story with a relentless soundtrack of ticking clocks! Shocking, but strangely moving we cannot help but empathies with this emotional troubled family, do we all not feed of off one another?

What the Swedish movie Let the Right One In (2008) did for the vampire movie We Are What We Are does for the cannibalistic horror film, a highly believable adult versions of the genres.  An inspired evenings viewing chosen by the RBC’s Young Programmers, thank you for the opportunity to see this very engaging movie.

Note: 18 year old Alan Chavez who plays Julian, was shot dead in a gun battle with police outside a shopping mall: real life urban violence!

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