Religion can be absolutely terrifying. Especially when man gets his hands on it, perverting it, and making it his own. God is perfect, but our interpretation of His will can be monumentally horrific.
Keeping with their family religious tradition all the way from the Colonial days, the Parker family has a very taboo dietary regimen that just so happens to coincide with many of disappearances of the small town’s folk throughout the years. With days up to the ritual, Mamma Parker meets her accidental demise when a flash flood comes to town. This is very unfortunate for the teenaged Parker daughters, Iris and Rose, who must take up their mother’s mantle as the ones who must ‘prepare’ the big dinner.
Loosely based from Mexican director Jorge Michel Grau’s 2010’s same titled We Are What We Are, I enjoyed director Jim Mickle’s (Stake Land) take of a much more hard line path than the original’s more humorous tone took.
The acting goes above and beyond for the genre. Actresses Ambyr Childers (The Master) and Julie Garner (Martha Marcy May Marlene) deliver beautifully somber performances as the Parker daughters. Bill Sage (American Psycho) is more than convincing as Frank Parker, the fear inducing father who is a true believer of their ways.
The girls know what they’re doing is wrong but as if in a cult, don’t know how to escape from the ones they were born loving. Mickle’s direction has you impressively sympathizing with the young girls who have been born into a family of monsters. How do you come to realize your father’s wisdom and beliefs that were installed in you are evil, and how do you escape it yourself?
Besides for maybe the very end everything comes off very telegraphed. There is plenty of darkness but none that you couldn’t see coming a mile away, so travesties unfurl just as you expected.
The ending. While the ending may delight the horror fanatic’s thirst for carnage, it came across very untruthful in a film that seems to pride itself on being hauntingly real.
Mickle’s American Gothic focuses on the enslaving power of traditions and yields a restraint so many horror films lack.
Take A Drink: Whenever the “illegal delicacy” is consumed.
Take A Drink: Whenever Frank gets hand tremors.
Take A Shot: Whenever any of the Parkers cheat on their fast.