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My first reaction to watching the IGN exclusive trailer for Jim Mickle’s upcoming horror thriller We Are What We Are was a slow approving nod, followed by confusion. Horror movies, especially remakes, don’t tend to look this good. Adapted from Jorge Michel Grau’s unique Mexican film of the same name, Mickle’s version, which he co-wrote with co-star Nick Damici, is a Southern Gothic tale about a close-knit family that goes through a rough patch. That’s what’s called an understatement.
What I love about this trailer is how well the story is laid out, being quite on the nose about the family’s dark secret without coming out and saying it. I wondered how this would be handled, as the Mexican version’s synopsis is quick to “spoil” things, though knowing is only half of the fun. I mean, the poster’s tagline is “The Parkers Would Like To Have You For Dinner,” and you can’t really spell it out any better than that.
The Parkers are comprised of the discipline-heavy patriarch Frank, played with a rugged intensity by Bill Sage (Nurse Jackie) and his daughters Iris and Rose, played by Ambyr Childers (Ray Donovan) and Julia Garner (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) respectively. There’s also Rory (Jack Gore), but it’s the two daughters that will be handling the bulk of this madness.
Frank happens to follow a very specific family tradition that goes back an untold number of years. Once his wife dies, the responsibility for putting food on the table falls to Iris and Rose, who don’t know if they’re quite up to the task. A violent storm hits the small town where the Parkers live, and it isn’t long before bones become unearthed, and the local authorities bring to light the family’s secret lifestyle.
Regardless of how the final movie comes out, this trailer has completely won me over, delivering a moodiness that isn’t nearly as bleak as its Mexican counterpart. It resembles Park Chan-wook’s Stoker by way of Bill Paxton’s excellent 2001 thriller Frailty. Because it’s more of a thriller with horror elements, the movie isn’t hinged on the reveals and the gore, transcending genre tags for something more universal. At least I hope so.
Also starring Odeya Rush (The Odd Life of Timothy Green), Michael Parks (Red State), Nick Damici (Stakeland) and Wyatt Russell (Cowboys & Aliens), We Are What We Are is the third film from the constantly improving Mickle, who is currently adapting another moody thriller based on a Joe Lansdale novel. My guess is if this flick maximizes the potential that I didn’t even think it would have, Mickle will be sinking his teeth into bigger films before too much longer.
We Are What We Are opens in select theaters September 27 before going nationwide soon after.