Toronto After Dark 2013: We Are What We Are Review

Toronto After Dark Banner White on Black 89uoi3rwef8youihk5j24twefsd98youhkj54twe

We Are What We Are 0uoi2j3rwefs7d8uoyih5k34twrs

Horror’s breadth of vision is part of what makes it such a remarkable genre. Straight horror is steadily becoming an increasingly difficult label to affix to a genre film, as they tend to vary drastically in their thematic elements and tonal range. Horrific elements can range from blood, guts, and entrails to demonic possession, or the depths of depravity of the human race. We Are What We Are, Jim Mickle and Nick Damici’s reimagining of Jorge Michel Grau’s Somos Lo Que Hay (2010), embraces the versatility of the genre with a shocking story of an unconventional family.

Set in the Catskills, this neo-American Gothic film focuses on the Parker family. After the accidental death of their mother, Iris (Ambyr Childers) and Rose (Julia Garner) are placed as the sole providers of the household. Their father, the formidable and domineering Frank (Bill Sage), enforces their sinister family tradition much against the girls’ wills. The hope of a normal life slowly slips away from the young girls as they are left in charge of the duties that once belonged to their mother: to slaughter, harvest, and consume another human being.

As a terrible storm strikes their tiny town, the resulting flood washes up what seem to be sparse human remains. Discovered by the local physician, Doctor Barrow (Michael Parks), a makeshift investigation ensues, and the extent of the Parker legacy is revealed. Would you like to know more…?

Trailer: We Are What We Are

WeAreWhatWeAre

We are big fans in these parts of director Jim Mickle (who was even kind enough to guest spot on the cinecast), the director previously made dramatically driven genre pictures, Mulberry St. and Stakeland, films that paid very close attention to keeping ‘the family unit’ close together. So Mickle was perhaps an obvious choice when it came time to do an English remake of the Jorge Michel Grau’s We Are What We Are, a film about a family of cannibals dealing with the future after the death of their patriarch and possible discovery in the aftermath. Featuring a superb cast led by Mickle regular (and regular co-writer) Nick Damici, as well as Michael Parks and Kelly McGillis, the remake played Cannes and Sundance and is showing up on VOD at the end of September. Until then, the original is on Netflix Instant.

Check out the trailer below.

Trailer: Red State

 

This trailer gives a fair bit of the feel for Kevin Smith’s Religious ‘thriller’ Red State and the variety of tonal changes in the film by outlining the gist of about 3 of the 5 ‘acts’ in the narrative. But the devil surely is in the details and you get a wonderful flavour of Michael Parks, Melissa Leo and John Goodman here. As I watched this trailer, loaded with Kevin Smith zingers, I suddenly realized that I liked the film more than my review (here) may indicate. Would I pay $60 for that film an a Q&A? Doubtful, as I have seen several of the the directors Q&A videos, but I would happily pay the usual $10 for a regular screening.

The full trailer is tucked under the seat. *Warning, it is loaded with F-Bombs.
Would you like to know more…?

Fantasia Review: Red State

 

DISCLAIMER:  It is tempting to frame a review of Kevin Smith’s new film, RED STATE, around its controversy on the business and social media side of things.  Smiths decision to ‘four wall’ the film on a roadshow style tour and shutting out the usual publicity channels caused a bit of a tempest in a teapot at Sundance, particularly because seems to have become a lot more prickly in the past decade and has no problem broadcasting this to his fanbase either by his podcasting network or twitter account.  That being said, I do not judge a Mission Impossible film by concerning myself with Tom Cruises thoughts on pharmaceuticals or his antics on Oprah, and I believe that Smiths film deserves a fair shake outside the confines of personality and gossip (and the business of show.)  But it is hard, oh so hard, not to see things through the mist of online micro-controversies.

 

The ‘cult’ film is back, kicking off with the one-two punch of House of the Devil and The Last Exorcism along with the forthcoming Wicker Man sequel (Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Tree) and Ben Wheatley’s Kill List, the genre hasn’t seen this kind of surge since the mid to late 1970s. Sandwiched in the middle of the micro-renaissance is Kevin Smith’s radical departure from both the Askewniverse and pungent palette cleanser after his real horror film, Cop Out. Red State is not so much a cult-film as it is a film about cults, but one that defies expectations at several turns. Part diatribe against Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church (who is mentioned – and casually disregarded – explicitly in in the film) part torture-horror, part action-thriller, part bureaucratic farce, there are at least four films clamoring for dominance in Red State. And while Smith may not quite have panache for tonal shifts that the South Koreans have perfected, there are enough surprises on display here to warrant a recommendation along with a caveat or three.

Would you like to know more…?