We Are What We Are and How I Live Now are currently available on instant Netflix.
We Are What We Are (2013) – Rated R
“Following a family tragedy, two teenage sisters are forced by their domineering father to keep their cannibalistic clan’s macabre traditions alive.”
What if we made a horror film with indie movie sensibilities? We Are What We Are is a horror movie with wonderful cinematography and an emphasis on character development. It unfolds slowly, almost gracefully and builds gradually to a very powerful conclusion.
We Are What We Are is based on a 2010 Mexican horror film of the same name. I have yet to watch the Mexican version but just a brief glimpse at a synopsis shows significant differences. The cannibalism in the U.S. version is clearly present but quite understated.
It manages to avoid most of the hoary horror tropes but does still have the person investigating who fails to tell anyone where they are going or what they are doing. Other than that all I will say is well played and let you discover this gem for yourself.
How I Live Now (2013) – Rated R
“An American girl, sent to the English countryside to stay with relatives, finds love and purpose while fighting for her survival as war envelops the world around her.”
Since this is based on the novel by Meg Rosoff, I have to assume that the writer is British. All the British kids are delightful and helpful and our protagonist, Daisy, an American, is one of the most hateful and abrasive teenagers I have ever seen on screen. The character verges on a parody of the Ugly American tourist – so much so that the first fifteen minutes of the film are almost unbearable. Daisy also has an unintelligible internal monologue.
If you stick it out, the film begins to be rewarding fairly quickly after that. The children/young adults live out in the country and so, initially, they are relatively unaffected by the outbreak of war. It doesn’t take long for them to receive a rude awakening and a few lessons in martial law.
Irritatingly, the soundtrack often overrides the background news broadcasts. Another irritation is that large swaths of the story are told in montage format. I did like that the opposing force was nameless and faceless for the most part). How I live Now is pretty decent, though not great, once you pass the quarter hour mark.