FrightFest 2010 We Are What We Are (aka Somos lo que hay) Movie Review

FrightFest 2010 We Are What We Are (aka Somos lo que hay) Movie Review

The FrightFest 2010 programme guide pitched We Are What We Are from director Jorge Michel Grau as a Mexican ‘Let the Right One In.’

Now that’s high praise indeed. Let the Right One In was a rare film which pulled together the horror and friendship between two children in a truly compelling and emotional way.

For FrightFest to remark that We Are What We Are was similar was setting the bar high. The film was highly anticipated by most people I spoke to.

The opening scene is gripping and beautifully underplayed: a weathered old man has a heart attack in a shopping mall. His death is noticed by the cleaning staff who drag his body away and who then proceed to clean the spot where he has coughed up a lungful of spit. Less than 20 seconds later, the spot in the mall is clean, and shoppers are walking by unaware of what has just happened.

This seems to set up a conflict between the haves and the have-nots in Mexico. We then cut to the dead man’s family. It’s revealed that they are cannibals and depended on the father to secure victims for their rituals. The task now falls to the eldest son and the film sets itself up to explore the struggles experienced by the family as they try and fill the gap left by their father.

We are given a glimpse into the world the family are forced to live in: cops and morticians who care about fame and money more than addressing the wrongs they come into daily contact with, children living under bridges for shelter and prostitutes who risk their lives for a few dollars.

Sadly, although the film is set-up as a complex family drama, it ends as a bog standard cop chase film. Tantalising conflicts within the family are set up at the beginning, but never paid off or resolved dramatically.

The first half of the film shows the family trying to come to terms with their loss, the middle shows their horrific attempts to snare new victims and the last section of the film is all about the cops chasing them.

As with The Pack (aka La Meute), the film attempts to appeal to those looking for a story and those looking for horror and never really satisfies either.

This would not stop me from liking the film entirely; however, the final scene features one family member surviving the shootout with cops and escaping the hospital only to smile at the camera as we see them choosing their next victim.

This cheapened all the good work done at the beginning of the film and was a disservice to the fine performances by an amazing cast of actors.

What started out as a hugely promising story descended into a cliché. A pity the director didn’t hold his nerve to stay true to what would have undoubtedly made an excellent story.

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