Eye For Film >> Movies >> We Are Still Here (2015) Film Review
New England, the fields limned with snow. A big, open sky. A lonely road between the naked trees. Anne (Barbara Crampton) and Paul (Andrew Sensenig) need somewhere like this, a place for them to live quietly and try to repair their relationship after the death of their son. It's just unlucky that they've picked the particular house they have, an elegant old building with memories of its own.
Ted Geoghegan's darkly witty, stunningly beautiful film is the kind of horror we don't see much these days, a haunted house chiller that doesn't flinch from nastiness but is much more focused on unravelling a creepy tale. Veterans Crampton and Sensenig bring real depth to their roles and a delicious script gives them plenty to work with. The nuance of a longstanding relationship, of people with complex histories, attachments and beliefs, makes this a much richer film than the endless stories of teens in trouble that usually fill the horror bill. We're a long way from Re-Animator here, but Crampton is every bit as watchable.
Providing strong support are Larry Fessenden and Lisa Marie as Jacob and May, the hippie friends visiting to provide support - and, potentially, to undertake some paranormal investigation into the strange feelings Anne has been getting there. She's convinced that her dead son is trying to contact her. May fears that it may be something else. On arriving, Anne was given a note advising her to leave. In the nearby town, people whisper and look the other way. And then there's Dave (Monte Markham), the local patriarch, who hints at dark secrets and seethes with an unsettling charisma that recalls the late Charles Gray.
With long, lingering takes that will have you growing suspicious of every shadow, nervously wondering what might be behind you, Geoghegan simultaneously arrests the viewer's attention and brings an elegiac quality to his setting. The sound work here is also excellent and contributes to the the sense of being there. Some fans of more recent horror may find the pace too slow, but that's a matter of taste, and thi is a story that takes its time to build. There's still room for a couple of jump scares and some truly grisly deaths.
Full of smart and not always subtle references to horror film classics, especially those of European origin, and to New England literature, We Are Still Here is a treat for educated fans. It's an intellectually and emotionally satisfying piece of cinema that marks out Geoghegan as somebody from whom we can expect great things in years to come.
One last thing: don't leave when the credits start to roll. There's lots of great stuff to read at the end.Reviewed on: 13 Oct 2015
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