Saturday, 26 October 2013

REVIEW - WE ARE WHAT WE ARE


The best, and scariest, horror films get under our skin not by exposing the horrors we face from the world we inhabit, but the horrors we face from the minds that inhabit us. We Are What We Are chillingly imagines a distorted human nature, but a reasonably, realistically, recently distorted one, which it implies we might all be vulnerable to. We can't run away from the monsters within, and instinct for self-preservation and fear of change make it apparently impossible for Iris and Rose to run away from theirs, even as they devour the monsters who threaten them from without. The less that Jim Mickle identifies his material as straightforward horror film fare, the stronger his film is: its narrative conceit is so simply horrifying that it needs no embellishment, and the closer Mickle hews to psychological drama, the better. Blunt violence and hoary sound effects cheapen the film, and dilute the power of the points it wants to make, though Mickle handles every minor movement with delicacy and conviction, establishing a gratifyingly grounded world for these characters, and eliciting tremendous performances from his cast. The film will likely have greater impact if you're unaware of its nature beforehand, as early scenes rely partly on a potent sense of mystery and tension, which is swiftly mitigated by foreknowledge of its secrets, which are few but forceful. Later ones, however, in the final 20 minutes, are marred by deference to crass convention, and Mickle's style here can't save the film from unravelling somewhat, and rendering its gradual, gripping build-up a little redundant; a last-minute lurch into bolder territory is more like it, and though it's not quite the conclusion the film has demanded, it's actually much more satisfying. Technical credits are polished and atmospheric, but not groundbreaking. I'd be totally up for an entire spin-off movie featuring Michael Parks' character, but I don't think that's at all probable...