Featured Critic; Brooklyn, New York (@floatingartist)
to Vote

[After being screened at several film festivals since its debut at the Cannes 2010, We Are What We Are is coming out in theaters via IFC on Feb 18th and available On Demand on Feb 23rd]

The film starts with a disoriented old man dying in an urban shopping mall in modern day Mexico. Cops are called in when a mortician finds an undigested woman's middle finger in the old man's stomach.

It is difficult to review a film like We Are What We Are without revealing too much since much of the film's strength lies in keeping things under wraps. Let's just say it tells the disintegration of one of the most unusual families you will ever encounter and shows their determined, violent resolve to stay alive. Played with great urgency, acting in the film is excellent throughout. The anxious ridden family members are: Alfredo (Francisco Barreiro), the passive, sexually ambivalent older son. Julian (Alan Chávez), the hot-headed younger brother, their seductress sister Sabina (Paulina Gaitán of Sin Nombre) and their disapproving mom Patricia (played with gusto by Carmen Beato).

Director Jorge Michel Grau creates an amazingly suspenseful and assured first feature. It moves along briskly, not giving us enough time to think about its fuzzy details or logic. With the beautifully somber nighttime cinematography and effective sound design, it works like a good old-fashioned giallo with a grittier urban sprawl backdrop. I am partially in disagreement with We Are What We Are being sold as a cannibal movie. Just don't expect another Texas Chainsaw Massacre here. One can even draw the parallels between the family and the ancient Maya ritual involving human sacrifice. Watching the film is a visceral and tense experience. It is an inventive genre exercise done masterfully. Grau is a real talent and I can't wait to see what he will come up with next.

Dustin Chang is a freelance writer. His musings and opinions of the world are found in

to Vote
Screen Anarchy logo
Do you feel this content is inappropriate or infringes upon your rights? Click here to report it, or see our DMCA policy.

More from Around the Web

For tickets and more information, please click here
Peter Martin's Review from Fantastic Fest 2010
Lauren Bagget's review from Fantastic Fest 2010
Eight Rooks review from Fantasia 2010
Todd's review from Cannes 2010
Ben UmsteadFebruary 14, 2011 2:55 PM

Sounds exactly what it needs to be: an intelligent, acrobatic genre piece. Anything but a Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a very good thing.

moyao93February 15, 2011 6:06 PM

Hi, I'm from Mexico and I had the chance of watching this particular film in the Morelia Film Festival. I'm quite happy that audiences around the world are happy with this film, yet I have to say that here it hasn't been much of a hit, see, the great problem about making a Mexican film is not having a good story, but having believable dialogues and performances, because so far few have been able to portray a believable mexican in the way we actually speak, I understand why it is a great movie through the eyes of others, but here the whole theater was laughing their asses off because of how ridiculous things seemed, because it's a cultural thing... and here it works more as a comedy rather than a thriller. I know it sounds mean, but its true.

Dustin ChangFebruary 16, 2011 11:52 AM

Here is the thing though. It's a genre film. We don't watch horror films for realistic dialog. I thought it was very suspenseful from beginning to end.

cineupaepFebruary 28, 2011 11:16 AM

i'm sorry moyao but that's just not true, at least not for me. I saw it in the cineteca nacional and no one laughed, well there might be some comedic moments but overall it is a pretty intense movie, and if you see it working as comedy then you don't get films at all.
You know the thing about films is that you accept them for what they are so it is no longer absurd, yeah sure it would sound absurd in real life but not in the film, and as chang says you don't seek realism, you just seek for credibility inside the tiny universe of the film. So in this particular case it works, i think the script is sublime and the performances are almost flawless, i did believe everything was actually happening to the actors.
so the next time you see it don't think too much about it just take the film for what it is.