'We Are What We Are' Is No Straight Hollywood Remake
Jim Mickle's We Are What We Are is a fresh remake.
American remakes of foreign gems are fairly common, and most only slightly veer from the original. Matt Reeves' Let Me In (2010) is an almost shot-for-shot remake of the 2008 Swedish hit Let the Right One In. And even Martin Scorsese's Oscar-winning The Departed (2006) was a fairly faithful remake of the 2002 Hong Kong thriller Infernal Affairs.
We Are What We Are Is No Straight Hollywood Remake
By contrast, Jim Mickle's We Are What We Are takes a striking detour from the 2010 Mexican festival favourite by Jorge Michel Grau. Both films are about families that have a long tradition of murder and cannibalism, but the similarities end there. In the original, the father's death causes problems for a city-dwelling family; in the remake it's the mother who dies, pushing her rural family into crisis mode.
And perhaps the oddly subdued, dramatic tone of the original film caused problems for Mickle in imagining his remake, because the new version falls squarely between two genres: rural arthouse dramas like Winter's Bone and rural horror freak-outs like Wolf Creek.
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By refusing to slot into a specific genre, the film struggled to find an audience when it was released at North American cinemas last autumn. It did much better at festivals over the past year, including Sundance and Cannes, as well as top horror festivals like the UK's FrightFest, Sitges in Spain and Toronto's After Dark. So it's clearly one for audiences looking for something different.