Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Jorge Michel Grau

If this film lends any new twist to the usual cannibal lore, it's that cannibal clans require breadwinners just as much as the Wilsons down the block. In We Are What We Are, the "Wilsons" are a poor Mexico City family who repair watches at an open air market during the day, feast on human flesh at night. Problem is, Pop's just passed away after a particularly nasty episode procuring a streetwalker for the family dinner. So the question on the table is: Who will now step up and bring home the bacon? So to speak...

The task falls on the eldest son of the three teen children (two boys and a girl). To make matters more difficult, Mom refuses to allow any more streetwalkers be the main course in the weekly dinner "ritual." Junior and siblings are left with no choice but to explore various other food groups-- club-hopping teens, taxi drivers, cops, even each other.

Using the cannibalism angle to explore Mexico's rampant poverty and rapidly disintegrating patriarchal family dynamic is We Are What We Are's biggest coup. At times, it does feel a bit like a gimmick, and, for my sanguinary tastes, the "ritual" of flesh preparation was left a little under-explored. But there is a pleasingly minimalist horror vibe running throughout the film and some gratifyingly gritty Mexico City street shooting.

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