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Film / We Are What We Are

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A special dinner with the Parker family.

We Are What We Are is a 2013 horror film that also has elements of drama. It is a remake of a 2010 Mexican film of the same name, but with some details changed. The film stars Bill Sage, Ambyr Childers, and Julia Garner, and was directed by Jim Mickle.

The story involves the Parkers, a family who follow a hallowed tradition that has been in their lineage for many years. It is the responsibility of Mrs. Parker to ensure that observance of the tradition comes to pass, but after she dies, it falls upon the eldest child in the family, Iris. Her slightly younger sister Rose also takes on some responsibility, albeit with more hesitation. Her reluctance becomes entirely understandable when it is revealed that the Parker family tradition is a yearly cannibalistic dinner.

We Are What We Are provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Mr. Parker.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The family heirloom is a pioneer ancestor's diary, describing in gory detail as things went from bad to worse.
  • Asshole Victim: Mr. Parker.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Parker children successfully escape their father (by killing him) and leave their hometown to a hopefully brighter future. However, they are now orphans, and many of their friends are dead.
  • Blood from the Mouth: This happens to Mrs. Parker before she dies.
  • Break the Cutie: Both the girls, but more so Iris
  • Canine Companion: Doc's dog. Although not a full-fledged Evil-Detecting Dog (since he fortunately never meets Mr. Parker), the dog does dig up the human bone that sparks Doc's investigation.
  • Cannibal Clan: The basis of the plot.
  • Church Militant: Mr. Parker is one of these.
  • Cool Big Sis: Rose to Rory, her and Iris's younger brother.
  • Cuteness Proximity: Plot-relevant when the police station receptionist is so distracted by Doc's dog that she doesn't notice him stealing a handgun.
  • Daddy's Girl: Iris initially has shades of this, though they mostly disappear after Mr. Parker murders Anders.
  • Death by Irony: Mr. Parker gets Eaten Alive by his children.
  • Downer Beginning: The film starts with Mrs. Parker dying somewhat violently. Things only get worse.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Rose's hair, which goes from tightly braided to a mass of curls. It seems to symbolize her becoming free.
  • Fan Disservice: Iris and Rose take a shower together. It's not at all sexy seeing as they both appear incredibly upset and disturbed. Not to mention that this scene takes place right after they've finished killing someone.
  • Flashback Echo: Iris reads from the family diary (see also: Posthumous Character). Like Iris, the diary's author is the oldest daughter of the Parker family's pioneer ancestors. The girl's mother dies early on (similar to Mrs. Parker), and the father slowly loses his mind (similar to Mr. Parker gradually succumbing to Kuru). The father ultimately forces the eldest daughter to butcher her mother's body for food (similar to Mr. Parker forcing Iris to carry on the "family tradition" of cannibalism). The flashbacks are interspersed with present-day events: the pioneer family eating their "lost" uncle cuts to bacon frying in a present-day diner, and both fathers stumble around unsettlingly.
  • Gray Rain of Depression:
    • For the first part of the film, there is very heavy rainfall that causes flooding throughout the town.
    • The weather turns out to be part of the plot, but it definitely sets a solemn mood. (The death and funeral in the first fifteen minutes don't exactly cheer things up, either.)
  • Impractically Fancy Outfit: During dinners, all the Parkers dress in clothes that would probably better suit pioneers.
  • Incest Subtext: Between Iris and her father, in an abusive, one-sided way. There’s lots of talk about Iris “taking her mother’s role,” and scenes where Mr. Parker gets uncomfortably close to her— he even kisses her on the lips near the end of the movie.
    • There’s also a lot of subtext between siblings Julián and Sabina in the original movie, again in a one-sided way.
  • Missing Mom: The film starts off with Mrs. Parker's death. Additionally, Doctor Brrow's wife is not in the picture, leaving him to mourn and avenge his daughter alone.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Iris and Rose both show these feelings after they kill the person to be used for the cannibalistic meal.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: This is what happened to one of the past generations of the Parker family, thus creating the "tradition."
  • Patricide: Iris and Rose are responsible for this, thus becoming Self Made Orphans.
  • Offing the Offspring: Mr. Parker adds arsenic to one of the family's suppers in an attempt to invoke this. It doesn't work out.
  • Perpetual Frowner: All of the Parker family, essentially.
    • Rose and Rory smile about once each.
    • Iris smiles once in the film, but it's forced.
  • Sex Signals Death: Mr. Parker murders Anders while he's having sex with Iris. As soon as clothes started coming off, you knew something bad was going to happen.