Film: A Mexican Malady

 
 

Title: We Are What We Are

Director: Jorge Michel Grau

Starring: Adrian Aguirre, Miriam Balderas, Francisco Barreiro

Release Date: Out Now

We Are What We Are has been described as “world horror with a twist”. However, this Mexican film has a lot more going on beneath the surface.

The plot of We Are What We Are revolves around the minor social taboo that is cannibalism. Director Jorge Michel Grau has created an extremely dark world that is not only reflected by the film’s characters, but also in the grim manner in which it is shot.

A family living in desperately poor conditions in Mexico City has to not only deal with the trauma of their father dying, but also the ordeal of having to gather their own food. This family has only ever fed on human flesh, so feeding themselves is a bit more of a challenge than it sounds. Therefore, in order to eat, they endeavour to capture and ritually slay prostitutes.

In addition to the horrific nature of the film’s main theme, Jorge Michel Grau also captures the sordid proclivities to which humanity is often prone. For example, when some teenage boys are attempting to slaughter a prostitute that they have caught, she asks them to have sex with her instead of killing her. They, being teenage boys, immediately start to feel her up, until mammy interjects and slaps them with a stick.

Furthermore, one of the boys in the aforementioned family is continually struggling to come to terms with his sexuality, while the other one has designs on his sister. Despite how ridiculous it might seem to include such subplots in a film, it allows us to sympathise with the characters by providing them with a level of depth – a trait which is not normally demonstrated by protagonists in horror films.

However, despite the unusual lengths that the film has gone to in order to establish the human qualities of the characters, they are clearly viewed with such detachment from the movie’s makers that it is impossible to fully relate to them – a drawback which consequently hinders one’s immersion in the film.

Ultimately, We Are What We Are is a deeply unsettling film. What it lacks in cheap scares, it more than makes up for with the near-constant sense of unease that pervades the film.

In a nutshell: Not exactly for everyone, but if you have slightly morbid film tastes, it won’t disappoint.

Conor O’Nolan

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