These days I’m surprised more families haven’t turned to cannibalism!
Screenplay By: Jorge Michel Grau
Directed By: Jorge Michel Grau
Comedy and horror more often than not mean an over the top film. Don’t get me wrong, I love Shaun Of The Dead and The Return Of The Living Dead. But, for as much as those movies do work as functional zombie films they aim to be over the top in their application of comedy. When those films are being comedic it’s obvious they’re being comedic and aiming for the audience to laugh. Somos Lo Que Hay is a different sort of horror comedy. It’s serious as all get out and it’s presenting a horrific viewpoint of the world as well as some truly horrific events. At the same time Somos Lo Que Hay is darkly comedic in very subtle ways. There were a few scenes, such as when a group of prostitutes chase down the guys who have kidnapped their friend,where I wasn’t laughing at first and ended up laughing hysterically the more I thought about the scene. The comedic scenes don’t dominate Somos Lo Que Hay, but they are present enough that the film becomes just as much of a dark comedy as it is an allegorical horror tale.
The allegory in Somos Lo Que Hay is also handled rather adroitly. Some of its allegorical intent is very obvious. An early scene where a dead man is quickly moved off the street by a cleaning crew to allow commerce to continue unabated is a great example of the more obvious allegories of the film. Other times it’s not as obvious, such as the path of the character of Alfredo. The fact that his mother views him as a some level of failure is never hidden. What the film manages to hold up its sleeve is how much this has damaged Alfredo. By hiding its play so long the film manages to plant Alfredo as the next generation struggling to make his own way. He wants to be his own man and plot his own path, but the generation before him will not allow him to do so. This also allows for Alfredo to coyly work beneath the recognition of the previous generation at times. I’m not going to give away what it is, but near the end of the film Alfredo makes a decision to attack someone. That decision seems on the surface to be without rhyme or reason. The people around Alfredo, specifically the adult authority figures, react as if Alfredo has acted crazily. However, to go with the allegory there is a reason for Alfredo’s actions and said actions leave him as much smarter than the generation that refuses to recognize his worth.
The death of the nuclear family is also at the heart of the allegorical aims of Somos Lo Que Hay. Jorge Michel Grau’s film does not hold this up as a bad thing or a positive turn in our more modern world. Instead Señor Grau plants the blame for the death of any family upon those in said family. Alfredo’s family doesn’t fail because of modern times or the acceptance of such things as openly homosexual individuals. The family focused upon in Somos Lo Que Hay meets their end because they are not willing to adapt to the times. The nuclear family has not always been the way of society, and in some places it still isn’t to this very day. The families that survived are those who didn’t fear the changes in society, but adapted with said changes. Alfredo, and to a lesser extent Sabina, represent the members of Mexican society willing to accept the changes in society. The other members of the family are not willing to accept societal changes, and they bring about the doom of the entire family as a result.
For all its allegorical power, Somos Lo Que Hay is just as effective as a chillingly atmospheric horror movie. It’s funny at times, always has something to say, and is visually striking. The only misstep in the film for me was one sequence involving Sabina where I felt that Señor Grau’s camera was overly leering for no discernible reason. Remove that sequence and Somos Lo Que Hay may just be one of the best horror movies of all time. As it stands Somos Lo Que Hay is a great horror movie, and one that does great justice to the ability of horror to reach its audience on many different levels. Cannibals the family may be, horrific their actions certainly are, but compelling and enlightening, those are the words that best describe Somos Lo Que Hay.