Like most bad movie viewers, I am pretty jaded when it comes to violent, twisted cinema.
Not that I deliberately seek out the worst of the worst, but at the same time, when your taste runs towards the B and Z grade direct to video schlock, you are going to get your fair share of gruesome, demented films. Most of them are cheaply done and not particularly believable - which means they are really not that disturbing.
Then there is WE ARE WHAT WE ARE.
The Parkers seem like a normal, poor rural American family - father, mother, two teen daughters, and a little boy, they live near a trailer park, and are struggling to keep food on the table during the bleak recession gripping the country. But when Mrs. Parker dies early in the film in a bizarre accident, her drowning sets in motion a chain of events involving her two teenage daughters and their father that ends in one of the most horrific climaxes I have ever seen in any movie. And I mean that - in ANY movie.
The Parkers, you see, are cannibals. They are descended from a long line of human flesh eaters, going back to colonial times in their Appalachian community. The entire family suffers from a prion disease that is normally associated with the cannibal tribes of New Guinea - a slow degeneration of nerve and motor skills due to their penchant for turning runaway teenagers into chili. But their symptoms can be controlled by - you guessed it - ingesting more of the "long pig." So Mr. Parker cruises for victims, while his daughters prepare to take their mother's place as the ones to skin and dress the game their father brings in for the table.
They don't like this role at all, and both of them dream of running away. But when torrential flooding begins to expose the bones of their family's past victims, Mr. Parker begins to think that perhaps the time has come to put an end to his poisonous seed once and forever - even as the girls plan to steal his vehicle and run away to the city to live a normal life.
Beautifully filmed, with sympathetic main characters and a truly gruesome premise, WE ARE WHAT WE ARE is a remarkable achievement. I highly recommend it for those who are strong of stomach.
And no, I will NOT give away the ending.