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Director tried to take cannibalism seriously

'We Are WhWe Are' director Jim Mickle (second from right) poses with cast members Bill Sage Kelly McGillis JuliGarner Sundance

"We Are What We Are" director Jim Mickle (second from right) poses with cast members Bill Sage, Kelly McGillis and Julia Garner at the Sundance Film Festival. | Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

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Updated: April 14, 2014 4:49PM

Thinking of becoming a vegan?

“We Are What We Are” might just be the tipping point. And it might be the reason you really shun mystery meat this fall.

In the new film, opening Friday at the Music Box, the Parkers are a reclusive family that likes to follow an ancient custom of a little cannibalism once a year.

Since there aren’t many movies about human munchers, director Jim Mickle thought he would give the world what he calls “one of the final taboos.”

“Why don’t you see more cannibalism in movies?” he poses. “I don’t know. I guess cannibalism is either campy or gross-out exploitation. I wanted to look at it in a serious, terrifying way.”

Among the cast is ’80s leading lady Kelly McGillis, but “Top Gun” fans don’t need to worry. “Kelly is an outsider who is concerned,” he says. “It was an easy-to-digest role, no pun intended.

Mickle, best known for directing “Mulberry Street,” says that he wanted the plot of “We Are” to evolve slowly, like a five-course dinner.

“I want you to get comfortable with these characters, so the anticipation drives you crazy,” he says. “I didn’t want to just do quick shocks.”

He says that the human feast “isn’t an everyday thing, but a yearly ritual for this family. I wanted to really delve into these yearly rituals. You’re so used to doing them that you don’t quite remember why you’re it.

“That’s why I tried to make this family as normal as possible and almost Norman Rockwell.”

As for the big meal at the end, let’s just say there aren’t many corporate tie-ins. “I don’t think anyone wanted us to advertise their stew packet,” he says with a laugh.

Next up for the director is “Cold in July,” a father-son revenge story with Michael C. Hall, Don Johnson and Sam Shepard.

Don Johnson? “He’s a great actor. The first time I talked to him, he said, ‘You know I’m professionally trained,’” he says.

The good news: The dinner on their table really is chicken.

Big Picture News Inc.

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