We Are What We Are (2013 film)

We Are What We Are is a 2013 American horror film directed by Jim Mickle and starring Bill Sage, Julia Garner, Ambyr Childers, and Kelly McGillis. It was screened at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival[5] and in the Directors' Fortnight section at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.[6] It is a remake of the 2010 Mexican film of the same name. Both a sequel and prequel have been announced.[7]

We Are What We Are
A bearded man, standing behind two seated girls, both dressed in white, his hands on their shoulders.
Film poster
Directed byJim Mickle
Produced by
  • Rodrigo Bellott
  • Andrew Corkin
  • Nicholas Shumaker
  • Jack Turner
  • Nicholas Kaiser
Written by
Music by
  • Jeff Grace
  • Darren Morris
  • Phil Mossman
CinematographyRyan Samul
Edited byJim Mickle
  • Belladonna Productions
  • Memento Films International
  • Uncorked Productions
  • Venture Forth
Distributed byEntertainment One
Release date
  • January 18, 2013 (2013-01-18) (Sundance)[1]
  • September 27, 2013 (2013-09-27) (limited)[2]
Running time
105 minutes[3]
CountryUnited States
Box office$81,381[4]


During a torrential downpour, a woman, later identified as Emma Parker, confusedly staggers into a store as the butcher receives a delivery. After several attempts to address her, she finally responds and explains that the foul weather has strongly affected her. The butcher says that it will get worse before it gets better, and she purchases groceries. As she leaves the store, she sees a poster that advertises missing teenage girls. Before she can reach her car, she begins bleeding from her mouth and loses consciousness after striking her head against a structure as she falls into a rain-filled ditch, where she drowns.

Later, the sheriff tells Frank Parker that his wife, Emma, has died. Consumed by grief, Frank does not show up to identify the body but instead sends his two daughters, Rose and Iris. Doctor Barrow, who delivered Frank's young son Rory, explains that an autopsy is mandated by the state. During the examination, he finds evidence of what he believes being Parkinson's disease. Meanwhile, Frank is comforted by his kindhearted neighbor Marge, and, while driving through the storm later, finds a motorist in need of assistance; the film implies that Frank attacks her with a tire iron.

Interspersed are scenes from a book the oldest daughter is reading, a journal of the family from pioneer times telling of hunger and hardship in the winter. The men of the party have mostly been lost in the wilderness, and the women may not survive the winter.

Rose and Iris debate whether they are prepared to take over their mother's religious duties, but Iris is adamant that they perform this year's ritual. Rory, too, has trouble keeping the family's past. Eventually, Rory wanders into his father's shed and finds a young woman held hostage. Frank angrily demands that Rory leave, then forces his daughters to kill and butcher the captive. They reluctantly obey, and the entire family eats her remains after a bit of urging from Frank. Marge attempts to deliver a vegetarian meal to the Parkers, noting she thinks she heard a woman crying in the shed, but she receives an icy welcome from Iris.

Back in pioneer times the family has taken shelter in a cave, but the girls fear the father is losing his mind, keeping to himself in the depths of the cave and crying at night. Eventually he leads the girls down to where he has been keeping their only food source, one of the women in the party who died (possibly their mother), tied to a rack with pieces cut off of her. he hands his oldest daughter a knife and points to the carcass. She is grim and resolute.

Barrow, whose daughter previously went missing, becomes suspicious when he finds a bone fragment in a creek. Though Sheriff Meeks brushes off his concerns, Barrow is able to convince Deputy Anders to investigate. Anders finds more evidence in the creek, only to be confronted by Iris, on whom he has a crush. As Barrow realizes Parkinson's disease's symptoms are actually similar to Kuru disease, which is associated with cannibalism, Iris leads Anders to a secluded spot, and Anders confesses his feelings for her. Confused and overwhelmed with guilt, Iris breaks into tears. As Anders comforts her, they begin to have sex, but Frank finds them and kills Anders. Disgusted, he tells Iris to return home.

Frank orders the girls to stay in their bedroom, and they form a plan to escape. Frank prays alone in his room, muttering that they have kept their tradition and will be joining their mother soon. While Frank recites prayers, Rose takes the car keys. When Frank prepares dinner, he takes a jar full of powder and adds it to the soup. As the children set the table, Rose notices white powder residue and realizes Frank is planning to poison them with arsenic. She unsuccessfully attempts to alert Iris, then knocks Rory's bowl on the floor to prevent him from eating. Before Frank can react, Barrow, whose research has turned up evidence that the Parkers may have engaged in cannibalism, arrives at the home and confronts Frank, demanding to know what happened to Anders and his daughter, whose hair ornament he sees Iris is wearing. Frank stalls for time as he reaches for his pistol, and Iris jumps in front of Barrow to protect him. Frank accidentally wounds his daughter, and Barrow shoots Frank.

Frank survives and knocks out Barrow. Rose and Rory flee the house in a panic, and they take refuge with Marge. Frank breaks into Marge's house and kills her, then convinces Rose and Rory to rejoin him. Back at Frank's house, he again urges his children to eat. When he tells Rose that she looks like her deceased mother, Rose bites into her father's neck, tearing away a chunk of his flesh, while Iris stabs her father through the hand. Together, the girls bite into him, ripping away his flesh and devouring it until their father dies. Rose notices Barrow, barely conscious, has witnessed the whole thing, and she places his daughter's stolen hair ornament on his chest. The next morning, the children leave town, and Rose brings a diary that details their ancestor's memories of cannibalism, implying their tradition will live on.



Principal photography began on May 29, 2012, and continued until the first week of July.[8] Director Jim Mickle did not originally want to direct a remake of the original film, as he dislikes American remakes of foreign horror films. After speaking with Jorge Michel Grau, Mickle and Damici realized they could put their own spin on it. Michael Haneke, Japanese horror, and cult film Martha Marcy May Marlene served as inspirations. Mickle wanted to challenge himself by changing his style and relying more on atmosphere and methodical pacing.[9] Mickle is a fan of Michael Parks and Kelly McGillis and sought to cast them in the film. Larry Fessenden, who has appeared in all of Mickle's films, has a cameo, as Mickle thought it inappropriate to make a horror film in the Catskills without Fessenden, who has a house there. The dark subject matter caused issues with the film's younger cast members. Mickle consulted Jack Gore's parents, and they decided that Gore should only know his own scenes.[1]


We Are What We Are premiered at the 2013 Sundance.[1] After a limited release in New York City and Los Angeles on September 27, 2013, it opened nationally on October 4, 2013.[10] It was released on home video January 7, 2014.[11]


We Are What We Are has a Metacritic rating of 71 out of 100 based on 28 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[12] Review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 86% of 83 surveyed critics gave the film a positive review, and the average rating was 7/10; the site's consensus states: "A compelling story cleverly told, We Are What We Are quenches horror buffs' thirst for gore while serving up serious-minded filmmaking and solid acting."[13]

Jeannette Catsoulis of The New York Times called it "a dreamy commentary on the ravages of extreme religious observance."[14] Guy Lodge of Variety called it an "exuberantly grisly" film that genre fans will enjoy.[15] David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter called it "a refreshingly mature genre entry that plants queasy dread and unleashes a good dose of scares".[16] Michael O'Sullivan of The Washington Post called it predictable and gross.[17] Scott Weinberg of Fearnet called it "a trenchant and fascinating indictment of the ways in which religion can brainwash and poison even the most innocent of souls."[18] Tim Grierson of Screen Daily called it "a tense, unsettling experience that offers very little gore but nonetheless knows how to turn the stomach."[19] Ryan Daley of Bloody Disgusting rated it 3.5/5 stars and wrote that the film "lacks any real surprises" but "has a lot to say and it says it well."[20] Drew Tinnin of Dread Central rated it 2.5/5 stars and wrote that the payoff is much better than the slow-paced buildup.[21]


  1. ^ a b c Collins, Clark (January 17, 2013). "Sundance 2013: 'Stake Land' director Jim Mickle talks about his new horror film, 'We Are What We Are'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  2. ^ "We Are What We Are". Coming Soon. Retrieved September 28, 2013.
  3. ^ "We Are What We Are (18)". British Board of Film Classification. October 1, 2013. Retrieved October 1, 2013.
  4. ^ "We Are What We Are". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  5. ^ "We Are What We Are". Sundance Film Festival. May 25, 2013. Retrieved May 25, 2013.
  6. ^ "List of films in Cannes Directors' Fortnight". Cannes. May 25, 2013. Retrieved May 25, 2013.
  7. ^ Goodfellow, Melanie (May 16, 2013). "AJ Annila signs We Are What We Are prequel". Screen Daily. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  8. ^ Goodfellow, Melanie (May 2, 2012). "Riley Keough, Julia Garner to sink teeth into cannibal picture We Are What We Are". Screen Daily. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  9. ^ Olsen, Mark (September 21, 2013). "Director Jim Mickle sinks teeth into 'We Are What We Are' remake". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  10. ^ Squires, John (October 2, 2013). "We Are What We Are Expands Nationwide!". Dread Central. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  11. ^ Squires, John (December 10, 2013). "Jim Mickle's We Are What We Are Takes a Bite Out of Home Video". Dread Central. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  12. ^ "We Are What We Are". Metacritic. Retrieved December 17, 2013.
  13. ^ "We Are What We Are". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 23, 2014.
  14. ^ Catsoulis, Jeannette (September 26, 2013). "It's More Than What's for Dinner". The New York Times. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  15. ^ Lodge, Guy (January 19, 2013). "Review: 'We Are What We Are'". Variety. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  16. ^ Rooney, David (January 26, 2013). "We Are What We Are: Sundance Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  17. ^ O'Sullivan, Michael. "'We Are What We Are' movie review". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  18. ^ Weinberg, Scott (September 21, 2013). "FEARnet Movie Review: 'We Are What We Are' (2013)". Fearnet. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  19. ^ Grierson, Tim (May 6, 2013). "We Are What We Are". Screen Daily. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  20. ^ Daley, Ryan (January 21, 2013). "[BD Review] 'We Are What We Are' Fashions Tradition Into Good Cinema". Bloody Disgusting. Retrieved January 15, 2014.
  21. ^ Tinnin, Drew (September 25, 2013). "We Are What We Are (2013)". Dread Central. Retrieved January 15, 2014.

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