The Parkers, a reclusive family who follow ancient customs, find their secret existence threatened as a torrential downpour moves into their area, forcing daughters Iris and Rose to assume responsibilities beyond those of a typical family.
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A seemingly wholesome and benevolent family, the Parkers have always kept to themselves, and for good reason. Behind closed doors, patriarch Frank rules his family with a rigorous fervor, determined to keep his ancestral customs intact at any cost. As a torrential rainstorm moves into the area, tragedy strikes and his daughters Iris and Rose are forced to assume responsibilities that extend beyond those of a typical family. As the unrelenting downpour continues to flood their small town, the local authorities begin to uncover clues that bring them closer to the secret that the Parkers have held closely for so many years. Written by
A film with such a visible title is surely hinting at the potential themes of the film, right? Well, popularly so, that seems to not be enough for the majority as they're seeking unusually complex films that are basically only made to reach that one significant message to the audience. In my honest opinion, not every film has to blatantly and pretentiously boast its themes and message in order to be considered a masterpiece or, at least, a great film. Upon entering a film, I expect it to entertain and immerse me in a memorable story, coupled with all the effective elements to make it so. If you're commencing this film with that mindset, you're almost guaranteed to have a much better experience. This motion picture tells a remarkable and compelling story about an isolated family who vastly differentiate from the normal citizens- a father and his two daughters and son- suddenly mourning the death of their mother/wife.
The film does noticeably carry along at a slow pace in its first half as the moviegoer adjusts to the environment and carefully observes this rural atmosphere and its wildly strange inhabitants. Once you familiarize yourself with the family's habits as their backstory unravels, the film begins to kick in. In defense to the flak the film's been receiving from critics who're essentially panning its sluggish pace, I'm forced to question why Terrence Malick's films (the earlier works, especially) are met with such unanimous applause because they perfectly replicate what it means to be excruciatingly slow-paced. With this unfolding plot, the pace eventually picks up in its latter half (unlike Malick's persistence in meddling pace), and we're ultimately greeted, for lack of a better term, with a remarkably tense ending, which serves as a pinnacle in conclusions. Although the film is frankly plagued by an element of predictability due to the way some scenes are shot, an edge of unpredictability is highly prevalent throughout the finale. The crowd encounters several twists and turns along the way until all has been exposed and the conflict hits its marvelous peak. Basically, this is one of those movies that are definitely redeemed by the exceptional manner in which the story wraps up.
By the way, this is, at the end of the day, a horror film in essence, and I greatly appreciated the film's preference of storytelling rather than the mindless path of excessive gore and pointless violence, that which infests the horrendous contemporary horror flicks. Admittedly, I found myself losing interest in the film's events and ensuing mystery until it finally reaches that sweet spot halfway through the story (as previously mentioned). In addition, it's superbly acted with the whole cast terrifically fitting into their roles and the father perfectly conveying that look of menace, intimidating everyone around him with a low-pitched, frightening voice and a werewolf-like, unshaven face. However, I'll have to mention just how irritated I was by the amount of mumbling that was occurring during the beginning. It was extremely difficult to grasp a single word out of their mouths, and I can't possibly stress just how much I hate actors' decisions to mumble. Understandably, they're often found in miserable positions. Regardless, without subtitles, you're left to struggle with understanding as the tale progresses.
Furthermore, the cinematography is undeniably beautiful at times and then, it also serves well when it comes to telling the story with that hint of tension and suspense (the primary goal of a cinematographer, in the first place, before going for fancier shots), complementary to the mise-en-scène as well. The director's consistent use of rack focusing undoubtedly contributes to the outstanding execution of some specific scenes, especially the grand finale. In the end, the film isn't fascinatingly complex or considerably intelligent, but it absolutely works in terms of plot, camera-work, and performances. Though the music disappointedly isn't striking and feels fairly bland and generic (removing potentially greater suspense and eeriness from the final product), We Are What We Are will likely stick in your mind due to the completely unexpected and pulsating intensity that erupts as it nears the finish mark.
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