Director – Ted Geoghegan
Cast – Barbara Crampton, Andrew Sensenig, Lisa Marie, Larry Fessenden, Monte Markham, Susan Gibney, Michael Patrick Nicholson, Kelsea Dakota, Guy Gane, Elissa Dowling, Zorah Burress
Release Year – 2015
Reviewed by John of the Dead
After garnering lots of positive buzz after its debut a few months ago at the 2015 SXSW festival in Austin, TX, I had to give this a watch as soon as it hit Video On Demand outlets. From first-time director Ted Geoghegan, who penned Sweatshop, this is one hell of a way to make an entrance into the genre as a director. Considered a homage to the works of Lucio Fulci, namely The House By The Cemetery, We Are Still Here is a joy to experience. Much like The House of the Devil, and this year’s It Follows, the look and feel of the film is that of a 70s/80s horror film. Instead of giving us poor remakes of films from said decades, we are being given new films in the vein of those decades…and it is awesome.
Still recovering from the sudden death of their teenage son, Paul and Anne move to the snowy New England countryside in hopes of starting anew. Little do they know, whlie trying to escape their past they have moved into a home with a past of its own. Every thirty years the house awakens and demands a sacrifice, and the Sacchetti’s are next.
The film begins with the Sacchetti’s arriving at their new home. You can see the loss on their faces and it is obvious they aren’t quite ready for this – they are forcing it to happen. The spooks hit the screen early during a solid first act where you learn that the home has a terrifying past. Much to my surprise, the scares never relent. The first solid action hits at the 26-minute mark, and from then on out you have consistent scares every ten minutes until its incredible third act where all literal hell breaks loose. Geoghegan’s direction was fantastic, providing excellent atmosphere that supplied the necessary elements for good scares. The film looks like a 70s flick, and the home used was solid for a haunted house flick. His execution of the scares was the best thing about the film. The scenes are drawn out to get the most tension to rise within the viewer, and he expertly employs dark shadows for the ghosts to come out of. I loved the kill sequences because they were full frontal and came with great live-action gore. The look of these antagonists was great as well, with them appearing as a mashup of zombies and ghosts. I also loved how any time they touched a living person there was smoke erupting from the contact areas, which kept the victims in agony before they were brutally dispatched.
There are some character elements that surprised me here. For one, the protagonists are middle-aged. Typically, you have young protagonists to appeal to the younger audience that spends their money on your product. There are very few young characters here and they never take away from the older adults the story is based on. What also surprised me was how well the actors portrayed their characters. Andrew Sensenig and Barbara Crampton were terrific leads, but the actor who surprised me the most was Larry Fessenden – a horror director who has done well with his acting chops. There is a scene at the end of the second act that shows just how good of an actor this guy is. I did feel that the scene was unnecessary, but due to the great performance I did not mind it in the end.
Overall, We Are Still Here is a fantastic supernatural horror film in the vein of the 70s flicks we adore. The horror is superbly executed to deliver solid scares and gory kills that are sure to leave you riddled in goosebumps.