Fantastic Fest 2013 Coverage
Video + Photo Recaps by Day
Jim Mickle is a true American filmmaker that doesn’t seem to really show a lot of international influence on his work. His previous films, Mulberry Street and Stake Land, hone in on the characters to show viewers the threads of the larger fabric they weave. We are introduced to the Parker family consisting of Frank (Bill Sage), Rory (Jack Gore), Iris (Ambyr Childers) and Rose (Julia Garner) after they lose the mother of the family (Kassie Wesley DePaiva). Frank, grief-stricken, knows he is the person that his children look up to but seems that he has never related to his kids. At the heart of it, the Parkers are a broken domestic family. The impressions given are they were never a tight unit that worked together. Since their mother seemed to be the glue that kept the family together, we see the family slowly pulling apart. Iris is fighting hormones and Rose questions her role in the family and the morality of what they do. They have kept their secret hidden but it is at this time that they are extremely exposed because of all the attention from the death in the family. They are vulnerable. Worst of all, they need food.
If you are familiar with the original 2010 Mexican film of the same name by Jorge Michel Grau, you should know what the trouble is with the Parker family. For the sake of this review, I’ll try to dance around it as I know not everyone has seen it. For those of you that have, Mickle’s version is his own version. It is mainly a remake in name only. It lacks the dirt and grime from Grau’s film and replaces it with rainy and dreary atmosphere. The story is about humanity. What makes us human? Is it our relationships with other people? Are social skills just as important as loyalty to your kin?
The reason why Mickle is the perfect storyteller, maybe more so the writing team of Nick Damici & Jim Mickle, is that he has a way with romanticizing an audience thirsty for character development. The characters are dense here. You want to plunge headfirst into their mindsets. These are heads you want to open and explore. Every actor in this film hits their notes perfectly. Michael Parks makes a one-note character like Doc into something more. He is a troubled soul that tries to get by. His daughter went missing years ago and instead of dwelling and being overcome by grief, he moved forward. Frank, however, lets his grief take ahold of him. Particularly impressing is the role of Rose Parker played by Julia Garner. She brings a certain honesty to the role that is just electrifying to see.
We Are What We Are is a macabre slice of Americana. It may not be for everyone as it is a slow burn but there is true depth in here that is worth exploring. Mickle continues his climb of being a master of true and personal American storytelling of the horror genre.