Sunday, May 10, 2020

Fun Fact: Saying You Are What You Eat Does Not Apply To Eating People

Hidey Ho, Horror Nuts and welcome to another WTFHM!

So, okay, I skipped last week, but unlike previous weeks, it was for a very good reason.

Picture it. Ferndale, Michigan, 2020. The Great Covid-19 Quarantine is in full swing. A beautiful but seasoned young writer is blogging her love of horror movies to ease her addled mind. The movie of the week happened to be a bland, but vaguely interesting little independent film about a cannibal family. She starts doing her research.

What’s this? Somebody already did this movie four years ago! The young writer has found herself in quite the predicament. Does she carry on with her current review or dare to watch the original?

Spoiler alert! I watched the original. I had to. You guys know how I feel about remakes, reimaginings, etc. And you know that lately, I’ve been proven wrong in my loathing of remakes.

And the remake was…well, meh. At least that was my opinion at the time I watched it. I felt like I needed to see the original because maybe this was an upgrade right?  Was this another instance of my misguided hatred?

This week’s movies!

We Are What We Are and Somos Lo Que Hay starring Laurent Rejto, Julia Garner, Ambyr Childers, Kassie Wesley DePaiva, Jack Gore, Bill Sage, Kelly McGillis, Wyatt Russell, Michael Parks, Francesco Barreiro, Paulina Gaitan, Alan Chavez, Carmen Beato, Humberto Yanez, Jorge Zarate, and Esteban Soberanes. 

Okay. So. First thing’s first. We Are What We Are might call itself a remake, but…

I mean, I can call myself a banana split, right?

(heh, get it?)

But above and beyond that, the most egregious crime of this remake is the dreaded thing that even I am careful not to tag onto a movie.

Some of you are probably not going to want to hear this, but I’m about to get really real with you guys. We Are What We Are is a whitewashed version of the original movie.

That’s right. I said what I said.

I need you guys to understand something about the term “whitewash” when it comes to movies. It’s a real thing, first of all. A real thing that’s been going down in Hollywood since the beginning of Hollywood. You doubt me? May I present Exhibit A?

That’s Katherine Hepburn. Last I heard, she was not an Asian woman.

But wait, Ophelia! That was waaay back in the day. And that’s more like blackface anyway!

Oh, I beg to differ, imaginary heckler. I beg to differ on both your points. Have a look at this Ridley Scott film from 2014:

Hey, isn't that a movie based on the whole Moses story...that took place in Egypt?  I mean, Joel Edgerton's totally Egyptian, right?

Is he, though?

Now, all that being said, I’m not so dense as to suggest that every time a movie is recast with white people it’s whitewashing. Admittedly, there have been SOME remakes of foreign movies that I would not put that particular tag on. There’s nothing wrong with retelling a story in a different location so long as you remain true to the original vision. 

But it couldn’t have been that bad…right? The story is still the same, right?

Well, let’s see… 

Somos lo Que Hay is about a family whose father drops dead in a mall. The family doesn’t even find out about it for a day and it’s through a rumor that the daughter heard about. The mother freaks out because the dad was the main person bringing home the (snicker) bacon.

The daughter, Sabina (Gaitan) informs her brother Alfredo (Barreiro) that it’s on him to take the reins and go out and bring home some bodies before time runs out.

See, there’s a ritual that they have to perform by a certain time or else they’ll all die. They don’t say exactly why, but it’s probably because they all have Mad Cow Disease.

Yo, that’s not a joke. You guys remember Mad Cow Disease, right? Remember why it happened to cows?

Yeah, like that except with humans eating human butts. 

Aaaanyway, after a failed kidnapping of a kid from a pack of runaway kids living under a bridge, Alfredo and his brother Julian (Chavez) decide to get a prostitute because their father usually got prostitutes (against their mother’s wishes). Mom flips out about it and murders her right as Julian tries to rape her…

(That makes more sense if you watch the scene, trust me)

The mother basically tells Alfredo he sucks at the whole body-snatching game and she’ll take care of it. She takes the body of the prostitute back to the corner and tells all the other prostitutes that if they mess with her sons, they’ll get the same beat down. 

While Mom goes out and seduces a taxi driver, Alfredo, feeling bad about himself gets a second wind and stalks and seduces a gay guy in a club. They end up bringing both home for dinner (nyuck-nyuck-nycuk) and a fight ensues where Alfredo bites the taxi driver's nose off.

The taxi driver is killed, but the gay guy gets away. The mother tells her sons to go find him while they start the ritual on the dead taxi driver.

Now. During all this, there are a couple of cops investigating first the body of the father (who the medical examiner retrieves an undigested severed finger from) and the dead prostitute. They’re pretty sure they’re dealing with cannibals and become positive when a call comes out on the radio that some guy just reported almost getting eaten by a family of cannibals.

So, since the cops are kind of already looking for cannibals, they follow up on the report, find Alfredo and Julian from the description of their car, and chase them down. There’s a big shoot out resulting in the sons getting away. One of the cops ends up following them home and walking in on the eviscerated corpse of the taxi driver. The cop fights with the mom and almost wins, but doesn’t see Sabina coming with an ax and…

So, when the sons get there, they tell the mom they have to book out. The mom’s all “BUT THE RITUAL!” The cops show up and everybody runs for the roof. 

Another shootout goes down and Alfredo is shot. Their mother just breaks out because “somebody has to survive”. Alfredo realizes that his mother was right and attacks his sister.

(That’ll make sense in a minute.)

He attacks his sister, Julian shoots him, the cops shoot Julian, and Sabina is taken out as the lone survivor of a house of horrors (or at least that’s how I imagine the news reporting it).

Sometime later, Sabina escapes the hospital and is still on the loose.

And more or less, that’s Somos lo Que Hay. How does We Are What We Are compare?

It doesn't.  Like, both movies have cannibal families. Both have to stick to some kind of ritual. Both families get found out because of the Mad Cow Disease thing and that's it. Really.

But, if you want a synopsis...sigh.  Okay.

So, the Parkers – Mom, dad, two daughters, one son. Mom, who is the major breadwinner here, dies and it falls on the oldest daughter Iris (Childers) to take up the family business which we supposedly don’t know yet because they don’t say. (But you already know because that's why you came in the first place.)

The older sisters, Rose (Garner) and Iris identify their mother’s body and are told that the state has to do an autopsy, which they do and find that she had Parkinson’s Disease.

That's what they said, anyway. Meanwhile, the father attacks a woman who’s stranded by the side of the road and chains her up in the basement. When his youngest son, Rory (Gore) finds the girl, their father gets angry and tells his daughters to kill the girl.

They do. Well, Iris does because apparently, it’s her job. The family chops the body up and eats her in a stew.

So, somewhere in here, there’s a wayback sequence where the ancestors of the family had to eat each other or something in the pioneer times and somehow that translates to a religious ritual. I don’t know. The explanation was really vague and weak.

Fast forward, the doctor who performed the autopsy on the mother finds a bone in his yard. See, the doctor (Parks) had a daughter that went missing some time ago. And now he thinks that maybe the bone might be human and might have something to do with his daughter. He has a local cop investigate.

As the cop investigates, he runs into Iris (who he has a crush on) and tells her basically what’s going on. She, feeling like she has to keep him off track, takes him out to the woods and tries to seduce him, only to get caught by her father, who murders him and banishes Iris to her room.

Okay, so, the father goes completely off the rails at this point and decides he’s going to kill all of them. He sneaks a little arsenic in with dinner and just as they’re about to eat, the doctor comes and confronts the father.

See, the doctor has figured out that the mother doesn’t have Parkinson's, but rather the human Mad Cow Disease, and therefore she must be a cannibal. The father tries to kill the doctor, but Iris protects him and gets wounded in the process. The father shoots the doctor.

The daughters try to run to the neighbor’s house, but the father kills the neighbor and drags the girls back to the house to eat the poison food. He makes some kind of wisecrack about Iris looking like her mother and Iris bites his neck. Rose joins in and it’s a great big cannibal jubilee.

The kids leave town the next morning and…yeah, that’s it.

Oh, yeah, totally the same.

Here’s my real issue, folks. Somos and We Are are both horror movies that deal with cannibalism. In Somos, however, the cannibalism is the backdrop to some bigger issues. Poverty, the invisibility of the lower classes, the place of men inside of a broken family unit, police corruption, all as it relates to life in Mexico. You could conceivably do a decent thesis paper with Somos as the basis.

We Are, however…Well, We Are is just a story. They stripped the original story down and said, “Who cares about all this other stuff? Here’s cannibalism…after about an hour and a half into a movie where almost nothing happens!” 

They stripped away everything in the story that made it what it was and it just so happens that those things had quite a bit to do with Mexicans in Mexico. 

So, Somos lo Que Hay I give a big, bloody jewel. I can’t recommend this one enough, actually. It was VERY well done.

We Are What We Are

Next week, let’s go for a good old fashioned ghost story with American Horror House starring Morgan Fairchild. (And if you know who that is, congratulations! You're probably over 40!) That should be interesting.

See you next week!


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