We Are Still Here is a surprising movie on many levels. On the surface, it appears to be just another addition to the haunted house subgenre of horror that flooded the 2000s. But it’s not your typical “ghost terrorizes family” flick.
Are there ghosts? Yes. And they are terrifyingly done. Is there gore? Yes. A shocking amount of blood literally splatters across the screen. Are there jump scares? Yes. And they are expertly done. Is there a body possessed by a ghost? Yes. And it’s a terrifically intense scene. But what makes We Are Still Here stand apart from the rest is director Ted Geoghegan’s ability to pay homage to the 1970s Euro-horror films without it coming off as forced and cheesy. Geoghegan was clearly going for the tone, pacing, and unexpected gore of Italian horror legend Lucio Fulci and certainly succeeds in meeting that goal.
In the opening scene of the movie, we are introduced to the Sacchetti husband and wife duo as they drive to their new home in upstate New York to start a new life after their son, Bobby, has died in a car crash. Paul (Andrew Sensenig) is optimistic that the change of scenery will help his wife Anne (Barbara Crampton) to better cope with the loss of their only child. Paul’s hope is instantly shattered when the house they have bought shows signs of a ghostly presence that is definitely not friendly in the Casper sort of way.
Anne is positive it is the ghost of Bobby and Paul thinks Anne is losing her battle with depression. But after a series of terrifying events and a strange visit from their neighbors Dave (Monte Markham) and Cat (Connie Neer) – who explain “some” of the home’s history and seem shocked that Paul and Anne have been living in the house for two weeks already – even Paul believes there is something supernatural going on.
As Crampton explained it on the Movies and Stuff podcast, “The couple is haunted but who are they haunted by? That’s the question. Maybe it’s the son. Maybe it’s some other spirits in the house from long ago. Either way, a lot of chaos ensues in the house.”
It is very refreshing to have a horror film that is not focused on teens being slashed to bits. And the performances by Sensenig and Crampton are both top notch. Many people might find some of the acting bizarre in nature – especially those of the aforementioned Monte Markham as well as Lisa Marie who plays Anne’s hippie friend – but it’s intentional and, more importantly, needed in order to maintain the tone required for this type of film. The upstate New York town the Sacchetti’s have ended up in is beyond strange and the oddness and awkwardness of the acting makes the viewer even more on edge.
The film has this nonstop tension throughout the first two-thirds that ultimately culminates in some amazingly bloody action sequences. The amount of blood is astounding, but it is not overdone like a slasher flick, and is done in such a stylistic way that it just becomes another complementary character to the story.
Speaking of the story, one of the film’s biggest victories is also one of its biggest faults. The storyline is not your predictable haunted house tale, which is great. But the efforts to make the plotline original go a little too far and instead make the film more complex and muddied than it needed to be. Despite that, We Are Still Here is well worth the 80 minute viewing investment and is a must see for horror fans, even if ghost stories are not your thing.
Geoghegan has spent the last decade as a publicist and even met Crampton while he was doing PR work for her horror movie You’re Next. Crampton describes Geoghegan as a “walking encyclopedia of horror movies.” And his love and respect of the genre is evident in We Are Still Here. We can only hope that eventually Geoghegan can quit his day job and get a chance to direct movies full time. Because if We Are Still Here is only the beginning of things to come from Geoghegan, horror fans will be in for some bloody good times in the future.
“We Are Still Here” will be released on June 5, 2015 in a limited theatrical release and on VOD. Watch the trailer below.