When they’re not immersed in their annual frenzy of making the Woodstock Film Festival (WFF) happen, Meira Blaustein and Laurent Rejto also work with the Hudson Valley Programmers’ Group (HVPG) to send films on tour that were made, fully or partially, here in the Valley. For WFF 2013, HVPG is shining a special spotlight on a dark new feature that has been catching some buzz in the cinema press: We Are What We Are, directed by Jim Mickle (Mulberry Street, Stake Land). Screened to positive receptions at Cannes and Sundance this year, it will be shown at the Woodstock Playhouse at 9:15 p.m. on Sunday, October 6.
The Halloween-season timing couldn’t be better for wider release of this thriller, a remake of Jorge Grau’s 2010 Mexican film Somos lo que Hay. That’s because it’s about – not to put too fine a point on it – a family of cannibals. But by all accounts, We Are What We Are has less in common in with most of the zombiemania so popular in contemporary moviemaking than with classic American Gothic tales of creepy backwoods ritual behavior like Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery. The premise is not that a clan of undead brain-eaters is after us, but that for one upstate New York family, the Parkers, consuming deceased kinfolk is an old tradition whose original rationale has been lost in the mists of time. The extra local twist that Mickle brings to the story is setting it within the context of Hurricane Irene, which damaged his Margaretville home.
Mark Olsen of the Los Angeles Times called We Are What We Are “long on atmosphere, short on gore,” with a “slow, methodical style” that nonetheless builds to a “shocking, inevitable, frenzied finale.” The story is seen from the points of view of two teenage daughters, played by Ambyr Childers (All My Children, The Master) and Julia Garner (Martha Marcy May Marlene, Electrick Children). Bill Sage (Boardwalk Empire, American Psycho) plays the controlling patriarch, and old Hollywood hands Kelly McGillis and Michael Parks have minor roles.
So if you’re a fan of atmospheric horror flicks, it sounds like We Are What We Are is the movie to see at WFF 2013. But if cannibalism isn’t your cup of broth, here are some other locally produced options to check out. Visit www.woodstockfilmfestival.com to order tickets.