We Are What We Are (2010, aka Somos lo que hay)

We Are What We Are (2010, aka Somos lo que hay)


The movie revolves around a family of cannibals in present-day Mexico. The father (Humberto Yáñez), the alpha male in the clan, dies unexpectedly, forcing the mother (Carmen Beato) and children (Francisco Barreiro, Alan Chávez, Paulina Gaitan) to regroup and find the best way to hunt for food.

Reaction & Thoughts:

Nothing I hate more than fictional drama in documentary clothes. As far I’m concerned, “to fiction what is fiction’s, and to reality what is reality’s.” I expect movies to look like movies, and documentaries to look like documentaries.  I tend to resent realism in movies.

That being said, once in a blue moon a filmmaker is talented enough to make a true-to-life work of fiction. We Are What We Are (aka Somos lo que hay) is that kind of film — a realistic drama with horror undertones.

Director Jorge Michel Grau’s (he also wrote the screenplay) matter-of-fact approach to the macabre works well for the material. I’m not just talking about technique. I’m also referring to structure, acting, etc. Grau makes you feel that you are watching real people in real situations.

In films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and The Hills Have Eyes (1977), characters are presented in a realistic, but overly-dysfunctional manner. We have come to accept that people who do outlandishly evil things must be insane. That’s not the case here. On the surface the family looks pretty normal. They do terrible things, but foam is not coming out of their mouths either. That’s what makes the film scary to watch.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

We Are What We Are is not a movie for rabid horror fans — there is hardly any gore — but viewers who appreciate understated evil will enjoy it. In Spanish, with English subtitles. Remade in 2013 by Jim Mickle. Color, 90 minutes, Rated R.


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