We Are Still Here is proof that the good old fashioned haunted house doesn’t need refurbished, spraying the walls with copious amounts of blood is some much welcomed decoration. In recent years, homages to horror of the 70’s and 80’s has provided some highly enjoyable tributes, but with We Are Still Here, we’re transported back to 1970’s New England, where the cold winter serves as a backdrop for something more sinister lurking in the dark.
In 2009, Ti West’s House of the Devil showed that sometimes all it takes to rejuvenate stale modern horror is a potent does of the old school. In an era of remakes, unnecessary sequels and recycled trends, it proved that the tried and tested tales still had the ability to create fresh excitement. We Are Still Here evokes the same feelings.
Like West’s gem, it treads familiar ground with a slow burn approach, effectively building character, mood and suspense to create dread through simplicity, before escalating into an explosive final. However, We Are Still Here is a different beast entirely. It contains all of the elements of a haunted house story; the floors creak, the dangers lurk in the shadows and the terror could spring out at any time. Having been overexposed to these traits in other features of its kind, We Are Still Here takes its time to ensure it doesn’t fall into the pitfalls of predictability. The simplicity is handled masterfully, the scares are surprising and the payoff is a blood spraying, splatter filled finale; the one we’ve been missing for quite some time.
Ted Geoghegan is a director with capable hands, content to take his time telling a story and ensuring everything available to him is extenuated to great effect. The house itself is old and dusty, with an ominous air that hints at something sinister. The small New England town is a snow capped blemish on the map, distant from the rest of the world, easy to forget. The town harbors secrets; the type the townsfolk make sure are kept under wraps. The type they’re more than willing to go to extreme, murderous lengths to protect. Danger isn’t just within the house for our protagonists. It’s everywhere.
Anne (Barbara Crampton) and Paul (Andrew Sensenig) are the main characters; a married couple grieving the loss of their son looking to start over somewhere new. May (Lisa Marie) and Jacob (Larry Fessenden) play their hippie friends, whose occasionally comic relief is welcomed in an otherwise bleak affair. Monte Markham steals the show as Dave McCabe; a seemingly friendly old man who proves to be the biggest threat to their survival. Such a stellar cast as they are, they deliver due to well written characters who are interesting to watch, regardless of what’s happening around them. Naturally, the actors and actresses deliver.
Overall, We Are Still Here is one of the better horror movies in recent memory. I’d even go as far to call it a modern classic. It’s a prime example of how to tell an old school story with outstanding execution and finely tuned tampering. A movie which delivers on all fronts if there ever was one, this will top many a ”Best Of” list in 2015, then go on to cement its place as a cult favourite for many years to come. 10/10
Written & Directed By:
Barbara Crampton, Andrew Sensenig, Larry Fessenden, Lisa Marie