So we really then made that the focus of the film. In the original draft, you saw more of the sheriff's character, more of the cops, more of the neighbor, more of the outside world. I think there was even another character in there. You see more of the outside world, but what it made more interesting was the smaller story. The ending was originally a much bigger, broader ending and it got better the more we downsized it.

Your debut film, Mulberry Street had a similarly tight focus, with its claustrophobic, besieged apartment-building setting. Is that kind of small-scale, intense focus something that you find appealing?

A lot of it comes from working with Nick. What I love about working with him as a writer is he's an actor first and foremost, so he comes with characters as a top priority. I think most movies, mainstream horror movies, it's not even a priority. When I think about things, when I think about a story, I'm more thinking about the overall story. I'm already thinking about, "What does it look like?" How will it be edited, the music, what the experience of the movie is going to be? What I love about him is he comes to things as they should be, he comes through with the characters and he's thinking about where the characters start and where they're going to go and how they are going to change. Horror is really more of a backdrop to that, and I love that way of thinking.

Location Info


Landmark Sunshine Cinema

143 E. Houston St.
New York, NY 10002

Category: Movie Theaters

Region: Lower East Side


We Are What We Are
Directed by Jim Mickle
Written by Nick Damici and Jim Mickle
Starring Bill Sage, Ambyr Childers, Julia Garner, Michael Parks, Wyatt Russell, Kelly McGillis
105 minutes

Subscribe to the Voice Film Club podcast

On Mulberry Street, we went into that film with like a $10,000 budget and knew we were going to have to make an apocalyptic siege creature movie and that we'd never, ever be able to afford everything we wanted to do and never be able to compete with Hollywood versions of the same thing. So I think we made a very conscious decision to say, "Okay, how are we going to compete with these guys? How are we going to exist side by side with these films and stand out in the crowd?" I think the one thing that they don't do, that we try to do, is create characters that you can empathize with and care about and want to actually watch. And hopefully by the end of the movie you aren't rooting for them to die, which is so often not the case in horror films. It was rewarding to see audiences really respond to that, for people to look past the budget. I think that's always kind of hung in there, because it was appreciated. Myself, I love horror movies, but more and more as I get older I'm more into the ones that affect me in a deeper way than the initial jump-scare moment. This was definitely an exercise in how far we could push it.

It's definitely doesn't play like a traditional horror movie. If you take the cannibalism out, it could be a "serious drama" about some rural family with issues of abuse and control.

Yeah, totally. That was the goal.

Is there anything else you'd like to say before we're done here?

Hopefully we've made a movie that isn't your typical horror film and I hope horror fans like it, but even more so I hope people that usually would thumb their nose at the genre will come check it out and see that there is more to the genre than Paranormal Activity and Saw. They can actually try to do a little bit more, and hopefully we've done that. I think a lot of mainstream horror films are sort of the fast-food alternative to genre storytelling. Hopefully, we're a little bit more of the organic, sustainably raised produce. It's all about supporting it and seeing these things and the more you check it out, the more farmers will grow interesting little horror films. And I think that what's going to keep the genre alive is that voice.

Subscribe to the Voice Film Club podcast

« Previous Page

Now Showing

Find capsule reviews, showtimes & tickets for all films in town.

Box Office Report

Join My Voice Nation for free stuff, film info & more!