Everyone loves a good ghost story, but finding quality films within the supernatural subgenre can be a challenge. The overuse of cheap jump scares, cheesy CGI, and unoriginal ideas seems abundant in this space at times, even for larger budget movies (looking at you Poltergeist remake). When 2015’s We Are Still Here started making waves after its SXSW premiere, I had somewhat high hopes. Thankfully, the film not only lived up to the hype, but delivered way more than I expected. Written and directed by Ted Geoghegan, We Are Still Here was released via Dark Sky Films on June 5, 2015.
Set in the late 1970s, grieving parents Paul and Anne Sacchetti (Andrew Sensenig and Barbara Crampton) move to a rural home in New England so that they can heal after losing their son in a car accident. Soon after the couple moves in, Anne observes several strange occurrences, such as objects moving. She gets a sense of relief and comfort, believing her son is there with them. Of course, viewers see that the entity in the house is not so innocent after the near death of an electrician in the basement. When the Sacchettis get a visit from neighbors Dave and Cat McCabe (Monte Markham and Connie Neer), they learn of the house’s dark history over drinks. As the McCabes are leaving, Cat slips Anne an ominous note telling them to leave the house. Still determined to make contact with her son’s spirit, Paul and Anne invite their clairvoyant friends, Jacob and May Lewis (Larry Fessenden and Lisa Marie) up for the weekend. During their stay, a séance takes place that has very unfortunate consequences. The couples learn the truth behind what is happening in the house, but not before an insane and blood-soaked ending.
It is so rare to find a film that couples ghosts with tons of gore, but We Are Still Here wove the themes together beautifully. The special effects team did a great job blending both practical effects and CGI to achieve some really effective visuals. The apparitions have features that haven’t really been seen before and are downright terrifying. The first half tricks the viewer into believing they are in for a more generic ghost story, but then it changes pace and features an original story. Instead of relying heavily on sound and music, We Are Still Here uses silence to build up anticipation, and it works. All of these elements working together keep the scares from ever feeling cheap.
The beautiful Barbara Crampton earned her scream queen title in 1985 after playing Megan in the cult classic, Re-Animator. It was so great to see her in such a powerful horror film, especially in the lead role, thirty years later. It was great to see her reunited with fellow You’re Next actor Larry Fessenden, who always brings a bit of eccentricity to his roles. All of the parts were decently acted, but there were a few missteps with Lisa Marie’s performance at times. Line delivery and response to some of the scenes just didn’t feel authentic. Some of the townspeople stumbled a bit as well, but all of this is easily overlooked since the film is pretty solid otherwise. As an extra treat, the film references several classics, including The Beyond (1981) and The House by the Cemetery (1981), throughout the film.
We Are Still Here offers an original and riveting story, interesting characters and, surprisingly, lots of gore. With something for almost every horror fan to enjoy, and appreciate, We Are Still Here is sure to be a modern horror classic. This one is not to be missed.