Wednesday, October 6, 2010

NYFF Spotlight: We Are What We Are

I have the distinct pleasure this year of covering a few of the films that are being shown at the New York Film Festival. Most of these films do not yet have U.S. release dates, and therefore this can be considered a preview review.

We Are What We Are
Directed by Jorge Michael Grau
NYFF Public Screenings: October 7th at 9:45pm, October 8th at 11pm

This export from Mexico begins with a suspicious man lurking around an outdoor mall who falls to the ground, dead, after only a few minutes, vomiting a black substance in the process. His autopsy reveals a human finger in his stomach, and no one but the coroner seems to care that there’s a cannibal roaming the streets. Of course, his newly abandoned family does, and his wife, daughter, and two sons begin a bitter power struggle to decide who will be the new breadwinner and bring home an orphan or a prostitute for dinner. The film is almost too cavalier about the fact that this family does little else but kidnap and eat people, and that nonchalance is alarming and frightening. Most of all, this is a creepy, disturbing film that should elicit only the most revolting reactions (and stomach lurches). There’s still an effort made to humanize the main characters, which makes their continued cannibalism and heartlessness all the more terrifying. The acting all around is of a much higher caliber than has come to be expected for a horror film, and this film could easily be mistaken for a dark, dreary, deadly drama. Its purposely poor lighting and general dismal outlook on life contributes greatly to its effect as a decently gripping, above-average Mexico-set horror story of a kind that doesn’t involve alcohol or drugs.


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