We Are Still Here, 2015.
Directed by Ted Geoghegan.
Starring Barbara Crampton, Andrew Sensenig, Lisa Marie, Larry Fessenden, Monte Markham and Elissa Dowling.
A family grieving over the loss of their son move out to the country, but they are not alone in their new home.
The recent trend of revisiting the 1970s and ‘80s as a setting for horror movies has produced some mixed results; from the authentic chills of The House of the Devil and The Conjuring to less successful attempts such as The Quiet Ones it seems that setting horror movies in the decades that produced arguably the most creative and effective scares has become something of a stylistic crutch upon which modern filmmakers can sell their films.
We Are Still Here is the directorial debut of Ted Geoghegan (producer on The ABC’s of Death 2) and begins like most modern low-budget horror movies by establishing a mood, in this case with cinematic shots of the New England countryside covered with a blanket of snow. We are introduced to Paul Saccetti (Andrew Sensenig – The Last Exorcism Part II) and his wife Anne (Barbara Crampton – Re-Animator) who are driving out to their new house right smack in the middle of nowhere. However, this move isn’t a happy occasion as it turns out that Paul and Anne’s college-age son Bobby was killed in a car accident a couple of months before and the devastated couple are moving away from the city for a fresh start.
It isn’t long before Anne begins to believe that she feels Bobby’s presence in the house and, after a strange visit from their neighbours the McCabes who tell the new arrivals a little bit of the history of the house, Anne invites her hippie friend May (Lisa Marie – Mars Attacks) and May’s stoner husband Jacob (Larry Fessenden – Stake Land) to stay. May and Jacob have a bit of knowledge of the occult and Anne hopes they can contact Bobby, but unfortunately for them it isn’t just Bobby who is lurking in the basement waiting to say hello.
Nothing highly original when it comes to story or plot details, We Are Still Here does create a wonderful mood, from those opening frames of New England in the winter to the creepy exterior shots of the house, that draws you in to what is going to unfold. However, the shaky camera work and lousy dialogue delivered unconvincingly by certain cast members does begin to raise the eyebrows after an eerily haunting look around the house with Anne – which recalls the original The Amityville Horror for atmosphere and suspense as we discover the nooks and crannies of the house – but once the full horror of the house is revealed the film steps up a gear and we go into full-on Lucio Fulci territory as arteries are sliced open and everything is sprayed red.
The performances overall aren’t great but the presence of Barbara Crampton adds a bit of weight, with Larry Fessenden and Monte Markham as Dave McCabe adding some humour and character that proves to be effective. Andrew Sensenig is pretty much a blank slate throughout – although the séance scene he has with Larry Fessenden is something of a highlight – but Lisa Marie is the real weak link here as she simply cannot deliver a line without sounding like she is reading it directly off the page of the script that is probably being held up behind the camera for her to look at. Granted the dialogue isn’t exactly award-winning material but a bit of effort could have made the difference.
Ultimately, We Are Still Here falls a little short of the greatness that it could have achieved with a little bit more development. The mythology that is quite clearly being set up doesn’t get enough of a backstory to make it as interesting as it should have been, and by the time the bloody climax comes around you’ll find yourself not too concerned with why things are happening. But Ted Geoghegan’s obvious love for the subject matter and horror movies as a whole – Fulci’s The House By the Cemetery is evidently this film’s biggest influence, along with the aforementioned The Amityville Horror and an underlying slasher element that gives it a bit of an edge – is enough to carry the final 20 minutes, which is nothing short of insane as We Are Still Here delivers what the majority of mainstream horror shies away from by trying to be subtle and serious and that’s blood and guts being flung around with total abandon; not in quite the same lunatic way as Re-Animator but given a bigger budget and an extra 10 minutes of running time then it could easily have gone that way. Nevertheless, the gore effects are pretty good for a film with such limitations and the demons that emerge from the basement are also quite effective, and it certainly makes a refreshing change to actually see the offending entities in more than just a cursory glance or just by the movement of a carefully placed prop. We Are Still Here may not set the world on fire with its technical prowess or originality but for those willing to forgive its flaws and approach it with the same positive enthusiasm as the filmmakers then it provides 80 minutes of quality old-school horror entertainment that avoids the ironic pandering that has crept into the genre in recent years.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★/ Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★