AN ALL-CONSUMING DOWNPOUR punches down, and two teenaged sisters and their red-headed baby brother sit in their dilapidated house, waiting for their mother to come back from the store. Meanwhile, their father works in his creepy shed. The Parkers are fasting in anticipation of a mysterious family holiday called Lamb's Day, but after Mom dies in a freak accident, it's up to the gals to pull together the family's annual feast. And it's a task—what follows is a wild understatement—that's hard to stomach.
Frank (Bill Sage) is the Parker patriarch, a zealot who practices a self-made strain of religion that his family's been into for more than 100 years. Daughters Iris (Ambyr Childers) and Rose (Julia Garner) are dubious of the family idiosyncrasies, but—like Thanksgiving's creamed corn—Lamb's Day is just something they suck up once a year. It's not until Pa starts losing it and the town doctor (the wonderful Michael Parks) begins sniffing around their strange rural enclave that their world erodes. It's best not to say too much more, because We Are What We Are is better if you go in cold, rather than stewing about its conceit in advance.
Director Jim Mickle takes the premise of a creepy 2010 Mexican film of the same name and turns the original's urban, poverty-stricken familial horror flick into a gore-punctuated film set in a dreamy, rain-soaked corner of the Catskills. It's elegantly filmed, tastefully dressed, and seasoned with a dash of campy gross-out, and while its wafer-thin premise mostly rests on a "God wants us to do this" house of cards, the strong cast and atmospheric trappings rise above the wispy raison d'être. We Are What We Are ends up being a cheeky (and disgusting) indictment of religion and its inherent balderdash. While it doesn't succeed on a pure horror genre level—it's more than a little ridiculous—it's a pretty and repulsive family drama.