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Horror Movies: We Are What We Are Research Paper


When marketing a horror movie, it is essential to take into account a number of peculiarities of this genre. Horror movies have specific audience and tend to explore certain topics. As far as Jim Mickle’s “We are what we are” is concerned, it requires special attention. First of all, this horror movie is a remake of the Mexican movie called “Somos lo que hay”.

However, Mickle did not intend to simply translate the movie into the English-speaking reality, but he retold the story from a totally different angle (Olsen 2013). Thus, Mickle’s family consists of parents and three children (two daughters and a son). Notably, the protagonist’s wife dies which is one of the first major surprises for those who have seen the Mexican movie (McDonagh 2013).

There are lots of other surprises which make the viewer understand that the American version is a totally different story. Therefore, while marketing Mickle’s movie, it is possible to focus on such aspects as peculiarities of remakes, sequels and prequels, the movie’s audience, religion and traditions, and feminism in horror films. These aspects will draw the potential viewers’ attention and they will bring people to the cinema.

In the first place, it is important to focus on such aspects as remakes, sequels and prequels. Mickle stresses that his film is a brand new story with some remains of the original story (Turek 2013). It is crucial to make the potential viewers aware of the fact that the movie is based on Jorge Michel Grau’s “Somos lo que hay”. Firstly, it will attract attention of those who watched the Mexican movie.

They are likely to wish to see the American version of the film they appreciated. Admittedly, it is always interesting to view the story from different perspectives. Of course, it is necessary to stress the fact that the story is shown from a different angle to foster those viewers’ interest.

Secondly, the reference to the Mexican movie can also attract those who have not seen the original. The marketers should make this group of potential viewers aware of the fact that the Mexican film is a success and has attracted a lot of attention worldwide.

Furthermore, it can also be fruitful to mention that the filmmakers are considering the possibility to work on the prequel and sequel. Kohn (2013) notes that Grau is already working on the sequel. The very existence of a sequel and/or prequel is often seen as a proof of high quality.

If the filmmakers are interested in exploring the past and the future of the main characters of the story, it means the story is rich and a variety of angles to look at. Admittedly, people eagerly watch movies which are regarded as successful and high-quality products. Therefore, the marketers should pay special attention to this aspect.

Apart from this, the marketers should not forget about the movie’s genre. It is a horror story set in an ordinary American town. There are no monsters or aliens but it is a horror story that creates the necessary tension. The marketers should also point out that the remake is based on an Indie horror film. Erbland (2012) claims that Mickle translates the Indie story into a movie with a wider audience.

People are often attracted by Indie films which become a topic of a heated debate. Indie films are often seen as a product for a group of the chosen who can understand the message and appreciate the movie. “We are what we are” is a good chance to become a part of the group of chosen and the marketers can also use this aspect in their strategies.

Nevertheless, though the genre of the movie has already been identified as a horror movie, it is possible to state that “We are what we are” refers to another subgenre. The story is not a pack of horrific situations and monsters killing people. The story explores a variety of psychological and spiritual issues. The family has certain traditions and they are trying to preserve them as well as fit in the society.

There is a constant struggle within the main characters who try to come to terms with themselves and people around them. Apart from pure psychology, the movie is grounded on spiritual aspect of human life. Catholicism as well as devotion to the family is central to the film in question.

Hence, it is possible to note that the work in question is a psychological and spiritual horror movie. The marketers should pay certain attention to this as people are always interested in new genres and new aspects of something they know well.

These three aspects do not only help to market the movie, but also provide a valuable insight on potential audience of the movie. As has been mentioned above, fans of (or just people who have seen) the Mexican original can be a part of the audience. People interested in Indie movies and their remakes can also be a part of the audience.

However, the major part of the movie’s audience will include people who like horror films and suspense. At present, horror films are popular and they have already become a part of the contemporary culture (Teusner 2005). Therefore, while marketing the movie, it is necessary to focus on this group of viewers.

Admittedly, to attract people’s attention to any film, marketers have to mention certain issues explored in the film, if any. When it comes to the movie in question, it addresses a number of serious issues which are now in the spotlight. For instance, one of the major themes in the movie is religion and adherence to traditions. It is important to highlight this aspect of the film.

Thus, Teusner (2005) claims that horror movies have always referred to religious beliefs and tried to explore a variety of religious issues. The family in the film is a group of devout Catholics. At the same time, they cannot be regarded as righteous people.

Thus, Mickle explores the gap between religion and the contemporary world, i.e. religious values and individuals’ actions. Clearly, this topic appeals to lots of people and discussion of these issues is likely to attract potential viewers’ attention to the film.

Furthermore, the topic of traditions is also transparent in the film. The members of the family do not simply want to commit certain crimes due to their sinful nature, but they follow certain tradition which has existed in the family for generations. The filmmakers try to explore the extent to which it is acceptable to keep family traditions.

Mickle shows that some families can have peculiar traditions which make them totally different from the rest of the world. The founding father of the family started the tradition and the contemporary members of the family do not think they have the right to stop it. They believe they are doing the right thing and are not going to change their ways as it is impossible to change own nature.

Notably, people living in the modern globalized world are often preoccupied with preservation of their identity (ethnical, religious, etc.). Thus, the movie is also a reflection of the modern society and different groups within it. This aspect can also be used to market the movie.

Admittedly, one of the major themes in the movie is cannibalism. Mickle tells a story about a family of cannibals. Of course, this is a horror story, but the filmmakers do not create monsters eating human flesh. The Parkers are seemingly an ordinary American family.

Again, the film refers to the ongoing discussion of the issue. Notably, some people are trying to justify cannibalism or at least find the justification. For instance, Wisnewski (2007) provides a philosophical analysis of the problem.

The author also mentions the Kuru disorder and tries to reveal positive aspects of cannibalism. Importantly, Mickle makes the horror story as real as possible and the Kuru disorder is also mentioned in the film. The film can be regarded as another illustration of the discourse. This realistic presentation of the horror story can also attract people’s attention.

Finally, the marketers of the movie can also resort to the feminist approach. As has been mentioned above, Mickle’s story is totally different from the Mexican original and in the American version females (the mother and the daughters) are central characters.

Brewer (2009) notes that the contemporary culture (movies are a part of the culture) is characterized by feminist approach to different aspects of human life. It is also important to mention that Mickle brings to the fore female’s attempts to remain on good terms with themselves and the world.

Apart from the discussion of the themes revealed in the movie, it is also essential to mention the filmmakers and their expertise. Of course, the marketers should refer to Mickle’s previous works (“Stake Lane” and “Mulberry Street”) which are very successful. Thus, Mickle is now regarded as one of the most successful horror film directors (Tallerico 2013).

He manages to create the necessary tension and the stories he tells are full of suspense. Duhamel (2013) stresses that Mickle creates a number of symbols to explore the issues related to cannibalism.

The story told by Mickle is a combination of a children’s tale about Ogres, children’s nightmares, and discussion of family values (Duhamel 2013). The director brings a horror movie to a new level which is more complete and sophisticated. Clearly, people are now seeking for new experiences and they strive to see new techniques in their favorite genres.

The cast is also worth mentioning as critics praise the performance and state it is really exceptional. For instance, Duhamel (2013) praises performance of the two leading actresses, Julia Garner and Ambyr Chiders. The young actresses manage to reveal the doom of the family. The girls’ appearance and their ‘reluctant’ moves create a really tensed atmosphere of doom and devotion to the family (Duhamel 2013).

Bill Sage, Wyatt Russell and Michael Parks reveal the strong male world where each of them is trying to pursue their goals in their search for self-identity, justice and happiness.

The marketers should stress the exceptional performance of the cast as some viewers (who are not horror movie fans) have certain prejudice and they do not want to watch some horror films as they believe these works are characterized by poor performance. One of the advantages of the movie in question is the great performance, so the marketers should stress this.

It is noteworthy that there is a lot of information on the film available in media. In the first place, the film was premiered at Sundance Festival and it was praised by critics. It was also shown at Cannes Festival where it was also warmly accepted. Admittedly, these two movie festivals are influential and positive reviews from critics can be seen as certain evidence of the movie’s high-quality.

The marketers should stress the movie’s success at the two festivals. Favorable attitude of critics is one of the reasons to watch a movie. It is widely known that people tend to rely on critics’ reviews. Therefore, the marketers should refer to numerous favorable reviews available online.

More so, the very abundance of the information is a sign of the movie’s value. If people keep talking about a film, it means the film is worth seeing and viewers should understand that Mickle’s movie has been discussed for months. It can be useful to refer to some peculiarities of the movie’s production. Thus, Mickle’s struggle with the ‘bad’ weather can foster people’s interest to the film.

The director tends to stress that the major symbol and even the ‘character’ of the film is rain (Tallerico 2013). Mickle claims that the story is set in the middle of a natural disaster, i.e. heavy rains, storms and flood. The place was chosen with specific deliberation, but they did not have rain.

The way the director created the ‘natural disaster’ and the atmosphere of certain rainy doom is worth specific attention. This curious detail can draw a lot of attention to the film as well.

In conclusion, it is possible to note that “We are what we are” is a horror movie which is rather easy to market. The film has already attracted a lot of attention and there is a lot of information in a variety of film magazines. While marketing the movie, it is possible to focus on numerous aspects of the film. First, it is essential to mention the original Mexican version.

The marketers should also pay special attention to the movie’s genre which is different from a mere horror movie as it is full of psychology and spirituality. It is crucial to make the potential viewers aware of the upcoming sequels and prequels. Besides, the marketers can refer to the major themes in the film. Such themes as religion, traditions, cannibalism and feminism have been topics of quite heated debate recently.

Finally, it is also important to mention the cast’s performance which has been praised by many critics. Al these aspects are likely to attract potential viewers’ attention. Notably, the audience of the movie is really wide as it can include horror movie fans, psychological thrillers fans and those who are interested in exploring the issues revealed in the film.

Reference List

Brewer, C 2009, The stereotypic portrayal of women in slasher films: then versus now, Thesis, Louisiana State University, <http://etd.lsu.edu/docs/available/etd-04092009-105427/unrestricted/Brewer_thesis.pdf.pdf>.

Duhamel, MP 2013, Cannes 2013. “Did you eat my daughter?”: Jim Mickle’s ”We are what we are”, <http://mubi.com/notebook/posts/cannes-2013-did-you-eat-my-daughter-jim-mickles-we-are-what-we-are>.

Erbland, K 2012, ‘”We are what we are” getting an American remake from Jim Mickle and Nick Damici’, Film School Rejects, 9 February, <http://www.filmschoolrejects.com/news/we-are-what-we-remake-kerbl.php>.

Kohn, E 2013, ‘”We are what we are” director Jim Mickle and Jorge Michel Grau discuss remakes, sequels and why their movies aren’t really about cannibals’, Indiewire, 31 May, <http://www.indiewire.com/article/we-are-what-we-are-director-jim-mickle-and-jorge-michel-grau-discuss-remakes-sequels-and-why-their-movies-arent-really-about-cannibals>.

McDonagh, M 2013, ‘American gothic: Jim Mickle’s “We are what we are” reimagines 2010 Mexican horror hit’, Film Journal, 20 September, <http://www.filmjournal.com/filmjournal/content_display/news-and-features/features/movies/e3i83b04e8f9e68d245cc221d51c757e9ea>.

Olsen, M 2013, ‘Director Jim Mickle sinks teeth into “We are what we are” remake’, Los Angeles Times, 21 September, <http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/movies/moviesnow/la-et-mn-indie-focus-jim-mickle-we-are-what-we-are-20130922,0,1774882.story>.

Tallerico, B 2013, Exclusive interview- Jim Mickle explains why ”We are what we are”, <http://www.fearnet.com/news/interview/exclusive-interview-jim-mickle-explains-why-%E2%80%98we-are-what-we-are%E2%80%99>.

Teusner, P 2005, ‘Resident evil: horror film and the construction of religious identity in contemporary media culture’, Colloquium, vol. 37, no. 2, pp. 169-80, <http://colloquiumjournal.org/back-issues/Coll37.2/169.180.pdf>.

Turek, R 2013, ‘Comic-con 2013 interview: Jim Mickle on “We are what we are,” the prequel & sequel’, Shock till You Drop, 25 July, <http://www.shocktillyoudrop.com/news/175205-comic-con-2013-interview-jim-mickle-on-we-are-what-we-are-a-its-prequel-sequel>.

Wisnewski, JJ 2007, ‘Murder, cannibalism, and indirect suicide: a philosophical study of a recent case’, Philosophy in the Contemporary World, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 11-21, <http://www.hartwick.edu/Documents/PHILOSWisnewskiMurderandCannibalism.pdf>.

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E., R. (2019, July 5). Horror Movies: We Are What We Are [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/horror-movies-we-are-what-we-are/

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E., Rhett. "Horror Movies: We Are What We Are." IvyPanda, 5 July 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/horror-movies-we-are-what-we-are/. Accessed 5 Dec. 2019.

1. Rhett E. "Horror Movies: We Are What We Are." IvyPanda (blog), July 5, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/horror-movies-we-are-what-we-are/.


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E., Rhett. "Horror Movies: We Are What We Are." IvyPanda (blog), July 5, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/horror-movies-we-are-what-we-are/.

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E., Rhett. 2019. "Horror Movies: We Are What We Are." IvyPanda (blog), July 5, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/horror-movies-we-are-what-we-are/.

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E., R. (2019) 'Horror Movies: We Are What We Are'. IvyPanda, 5 July. (Accessed: 5 December 2019).

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