I don’t know if I would classify Are We Not Cats as horror because it’s not what people expect from horror, even when it’s crossed over with romance. Maybe that means this is ahead of its time. For me the movie dips its scabby toe into so many genres but ever so gently that it doesn’t commit to any of them.
That said, I felt horribly sick several times while watching.
Our story concerns a young man in pre-internet New York who loses his job, his flat and his girlfriend in one night, and resorts to sleeping in a van his parents gifted him before they moved to Arizona. One night while drinking bleach (jesus) with a threatening customer, he ends up in quite possibly the most disgusting bar this side of a Brick Lane sewer (aka all of the streets off of Brick Lane) where he meets a purple-haired lumberjane who lives in a house that looks like a garage decorated with trash and 50 colour-clashing fabrics. And she shares his habit of ripping out one’s own hair and eating it.
This is the least disgusting thing about the film.
I have severe OCD, so it’s not surprising that I’d be triggered by a protagonist who is basically a bag of foetid germs masquerading as a man, whose back is full of horrible scabs, his fingernails are permanently dirty, and his face has never seen moisturiser. In fact, I don’t think soap is used at any point in the film – not even right before he uses the same hunting knife he used to pick his filthy fingernails as he does for emergency surgery – which is somehow even more nauseating.
This is the movie equivalent of the soap-congealed, rat-like mass of hair that you occasionally have to pull up from your shower drain, and which makes Raw look like a children’s variety hour. It’s very retro-indie and distinguished by its deliberately mostly-Motown soundtrack, but the movie is just all gross-out beats in every scene, and my OCD (it’s my fault) was ultimately not convinced of its grubby charm.