The new horror indie release We Are What We Are is rolling into theaters this month and is the perfect film alternative to the hyped up, manufactured scares of mainstream movies. For one, We Are What We Are traveled the A-List festival circuit this year from Sundance to Cannes and even made a stop in familiar territory with Fantastic Fest. This mix is perfect. The story focuses on a bizarre family (I’d rather not spoil anything about it) and there’s even a prequel in the works. Director Jim Mickle was in Denver to promote his horror picture as the Opening Night movie at the Mile High Horror Festival at the Alamo Drafthouse in Littleton and spoke to an audience at an advanced screening for Landmark Theaters E-Club members.
Though Jim Mickle’s previous works including Stakeland (about a vampire apocalypse) and Mullberry Street may not be familiar to most audiences, this filmmaker is an emerging talent. What he crafted was a gruesome and moody horror flick with a macabre twist ending. He admitted that his influences arrange from John Carpenter, Sam Raimi, and Peter Jackson (think old school Meet the Feebles, during his pre-Lord of the Rings days). As the Q&A session got underway after an invite only screening, one audience member described the director as a “sick fuck” poking fun at the depraved nature of the film particular in the last few minutes of the horror film.
I find that you do horror festivals and what’s crazy are those people are some of the nicest and most normal people. The people who make the romantic comedies are the. most messed up.
Based on a 2010 Mexican film of the same name which did well overseas, it played at numerous film festivals as well yet didn’t do too well in the art house market. Two producers approached him thinking he would be a good fit for the remake. They know that his embrace of the horror element is used as a vital back-drop and not the main point. He didn’t want to lose focus and maintain the artistic credibility of his roots.
I didn’t want to fall in the pit falls of many American remakes that butcher the hell out of these films. I was afraid that we sort of fallen into that trap. We had the best of intentions. If we were going to do it so we basically turned the story upside down.
The original We Are What We Are was about two brothers coming to terms with the death of their father at the beginning (instead of the American remake featuring two sisters and the mother dying). It becomes a sort of competition between the two brothers as an exploration of manhood. Despite the changes, Mickle wanted numerous scenes and the ending to be ambiguous in story telling narrative.
I don’t want it to be that all religion is bad. To take the elements of their past that are good and take the elements of their beliefs that are good and go on with hopefully not taking in the worst parts was the focus. With that being said it’s obvious that they could do that pretty easily.
Filmed in Margaretville, New York, director Mickle has now shot three films in the area. One thing he needed to do was to remind himself it isn’t a vampire movie or zombie movie nor anything supernatural. He wanted it to be based in realism as well as an exploration of religion. He continued the critique of religion by implementing the narrative of nature versus nurture.
I think with what’s going on there in the end, it is about the argument of nature versus nurture and are we blank slates that anything can be impressed upon or is it that God gene or once you’ve learned something you cant shake it off no matter how hard you try,” he said.
We Are What We Are is currently playing at the Landmark Mayan and various other theaters in America and around the world.