One of 2010’s most wicked independent horror films is getting an American remake, thanks to a pair of up-and-coming filmmakers. Director Jim Mickle and his screenwriter partner Nick Damici are now set to remake Jorge Michel Grau’s We Are What We Are, the best little Mexican horror flick about a family of cannibals you’ve likely never seen. As our pal Peter S. Hall points out, with Mickle signed on for the remake, that means that a film from 2010’s Fantastic Fest is getting remade by a director who also had a film at that same FF. Synergy!
Mickle and Damici’s Stake Land played at FF, as well as at Toronto as part of their Midnight Madness sidebar (where it won the People’s Choice Award). The film followed a set of survivors attempting to scrape by in a post-apocalyptic wasteland ruled by vampires. While I wasn’t the biggest fan of the film, Mickle and Damici infused their characters with believable and likable qualities, and then set them against an appropriately gritty and terrifying background. And Grau seems to agree, saying “I feel fortunate to have someone with the vision and talent Jim has to re-interpret my work. It is extraordinary to have a team of filmmakers so respectful of the spirit of a film and take such good care of its essence. I’m so proud to know We Are What We Are will be reworked under that kind of intelligent frame of mind. Very happy that Jim will construct a new universe over the bases of mine.”
But it’s precisely that “new universe” that turns me off from this project. I am a big fan of Grau’s original film (in fact, it was my 31 Days of Horror entry this past October), and though I am excited that his story will now reach a wider audience (in a fashion), Mickle and Damici’s reworking seems poised to take away one of the very best and most effective parts of Grau’s film ‐ the location
Mickle and Damici’s new film will reportedly take place in “a poor part of the Catskills region in New York State,” a very different location than the film’s original setting ‐ bustling Mexico City. Though I’ve never attempted to raise a cannibalistic family, I’m willing to bet it’s a whole hell of a lot easier to hunt, kill, and eat people in a more rural area like the Catskills (weird point of reference: Dirty Dancing was meant to take place in the Catskills) than it is in a huge city like Mexico City.
One of the best parts about We Are What We Are is the implication that anyone could be a cannibal ‐ including your next door neighbors. Weirdly enough, the city setting allowed a greater distance between people, one that seems almost too obvious and easy in a locale like the Catskills. It’s a change that I bristle at, but I certainly hope that Mickle and Damici pull it off and bring a wider audience to Grau’s vision and film. [Screen Daily, via Fangoria]