When I found out Bentley had went on a movie outing, I gave the Human an ultimatum: bring me to a movie or I will empty out my bowels on his bed till kingdom come.
He conceded. But let this be clear, I was not going to follow up with my threat. Bentley creates enough mess as it is. Besides, I like to stay clean. Less chances of the Human dunking me in a basin of warm water in what he calls a ‘bath’. I call it torture.
But where are my manners? My name is Pan, it is short for Pantalaimon, after the dæmon in the His Dark Materials trilogy. Just like my brother I too am a hooded rat, but I am champagne coloured. And no, we were not about to become snake food. We were sold for $30 to the Human at some pet store.
Also, I am writing this on my own.
So, movie review. We Are What We Are is a 2010 Mexican horror film. And yes, there is a 2013 American remake of the film but I have not seen it yet.
The premise of We Are What We Are centers around a family of cannibals who must continue their sacred ritual of kidnapping humans for food after the father dies from poisoning. The cause of the poisoning is not known but it is suspected that he contracted food poisoning due to his addiction to prostitutes.
Although labelled as a horror movie, We Are What We Are is not so much horror as psychological-drama. If you are expecting gore, then you will be sorely disappointed. Go watch Saw XXII [or whatever number they have reached up-to] then!
Instead, We Are What We Are focuses heavily on the psychological and emotional aspects of the characters. You can feel and taste the utter desperation as the surviving family members cling onto each other and to their sacred ritual of cannibalism as the one brief illumination of hope.
Yet, their dysfunctional relationships with each other threatens to rip them apart and expose their deadly secrets to rest of the society.
Although the film reels in the audience to sympathise with the family by showing the events from their point of view, one gets a sense that we will never understand the family. It is as if there is a thin but impenetrable barrier between the audience and characters.
The constant use of glass, mirrors and windows throughout the film reinforces the sensation. This also ties in with the constant action of closing doors; the audience is constantly shut out, just as the family members are shut out from each other and from the wider society.
We are allowed to view them as some sort of strange specimen, but never allowed to truly understand them.
Reminds me of the time when I spent my first couple of months at the pet store. Bloody kids banging on the plastic cage. Sometimes I just want to eat in peace.
Ahem. However, by shutting out the audience, We Are What We Are is quite a frustrating film. Why are the family cannibals? What is the ritual? Why do they need to do the ritual? Was the father really poisoned or just suffering from a severe case of indigestion? Are the family even humans? Are there others like them?
All these questions come up during the film but are never answered. In the end, none of the questions are answered and all we are given is the enigmatic smile of Sabina, the sole surviving family member.
We Are What We Are is a very grim film with a macabre and taboo subject that is handled with delicacy. The performances from the cast were brilliant and the story was gripping.
However, the film fails to reach its full potential, and that is perhaps due to shutting out the audience all the time. Sometimes, we need to fully sympathise with the bad guys to care for them.
And that, I believe, makes or breaks a great film.
3 wobbles out of 5 from my snobbish snout.
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