'We Are What We Are' gaining critical praise
By Brian Sweeney
“We Are What We Are,” a film shot in locally last year, opened in New York and Los Angeles over the weekend to excellent reviews.
Director Jim Mickle’s movie had its world premier at the Sundance Film Festival and then screened at 2013 Cannes Film Festival’s Directors’ Fortnight. The movie received award nominations at both venues. One of the film’s young stars, Julia Garner won the Best Actor prize at Fantastic Fest in Texas.
Area residents will have the opportunity to get their first glimpse of the movie on Sunday, Oct. 6 at 9:30 p.m. when it’s shown at the Woodstock Playhouse as part of the Woodstock Film Festival. Check website for time and date confirmation.
Mr. Mickle told the News last week that the buzz for “We Are What We Are” has been superb.
“Everything has been going incredibly well – you never know with a horror film, so far we are picking up great steam,” he commented.
“We Are What We Are” is actually a remake of a 2010 Mexican movie, “Somos Lo Que Hay,” but has been re-imagined by Mr. Mickle and co-writer Nick Damici.
Although the story delves into a family’s long history with cannibalism, Mr. Mickle said that gory aspect is actually a backdrop, rather than an overriding theme.
“It’s more of a family melodrama and a study on religion and faith,” he explained.
Mr. Mickle also noted that neither he nor Mr. Damici were interested in simply retelling the same tale as the original.
They rewrote many of the character details and changed the setting from the slums of Mexico City to rural upstate New York. The co-writers also wanted to explore a theme that could justify the family’s “lifestyle.” The answer they came up with was religion.
“It was interesting to explore,” says Mr. Mickle in a press summary of the film, “how something could actually convince you to do something so horrid. But if you grew up with it, and it’s the only thing you’ve ever known, and the people you trust are telling you that’s the way that it is, is that all that much crazier than any religion? So it was kind of fun to take that idea and stretch it, but try to keep it as realistic as possible.”
Ironically, a massive flood is also central to the plot and the local region provided real-life evidence of post-flood devastation when it was shot in the spring of 2012, less than a year after much of the area was hard-hit by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in the span of a week.
Arkville, Andes, Bovina, Margaretville and Halcottsville are all prominently featured in the movie, as are many area residents who filled roles as extras.
The director said that an authentic Greek Revival farmhouse in Bovina serves as the family’s home, the Titan Drilling office in Arkville was transformed into a police station and the streets of Halcottsville served as the setting for a festival scene. Carlson’s Trailer Park in Arkville is another key location, as is Hogan’s Store in Andes.
The director has a home in the region and also utilized local communities and residents for small parts in the critically lauded vampire movie “Stake Land,” released in 2010.