We Are Still Here (2015)

Ted Geoghegan‘s We Are Still Here is a gorgeous, gloriously straightforward haunted house movie. It’s from the same new wave school of horror as the output of filmmakers like Ti West and Adam Wingard, and it’s a really fun, surprisingly bloody ride through the frozen landscape of New England.

Anne and Paul have lost their son in a tragic car accident and have moved to an old house in New Engand in order to start afresh and heal their deep emotional wounds. While Paul remains pragmatic and skeptical, Anne is sure she can feel a presence in their new house and suspects it to be their dead son. Enlisting the company of a couple of acquaintances who are familiar with the spritual plane, they soon learn that their house may contain far more malevolant entities than they’d hoped, and the cagey townsfolk might know a bit more about it than they’re letting on.

Haunted house stories are ten-a-penny and We Are Still Here does nothing new for the sub-genre, but it’s clearly so lovingly made that it’s likely to win you over regardless. It’s shot beautifully and, despite being almost exclusively set in a single location, somehow manages to utilise the snowy surroundings to great effect. The bright white landscape is juxtaposed perfectly with the dimly lit house and the two are blended seamlessly.

Barbara Crampton and Andrew Sensenig, as the grieving home-owners, have helped to create the rarest of breeds in the horror genre; a pair of ridiculously likeable characters whom you cannot help but root for. Equally, Larry Fessenden and Lisa Marie are a nice foil for their rational disbelievers and effortlessly provide some much-needed occasional levity to punctuate the seriousness. It’s really nice to see that some filmmakers still see the value in slightly older genre actors and favour using them over the usual slew of insufferable, tight-bodied charisma-vacuums that normally populate modern horror. More of this please!

The sumptuous 70′s inspired feel is akin to that of films like House Of The Devil and the whole film has a pervasive vintage quality which is oddly appealing. From the decor, to the clothing, it’s slightly disorienting and makes it hard to pin an actual date to the film (although the maths within the story would tell us that the 70′s is a safe bet).

Haunted house movies are usually pretty blood-free affairs, so also it’s refreshing to see one that handles its gore just as well as its chills. The final act is a gleefully claret-soaked sequence of scenes that are a perfect argument for choosing practical effects over CGI.

On the flipside, the mystery is a fairly flimsy one, and not enough time is afforded to the townspople whose story could have been just as interesting as our protagonists’, so in one or two places the action seems to arrive without enough build up. It’s a minor complaint in an otherwise fun and well-constructed movie though. It might be a bit too much of a throwback for some audiences who want something a little more modern, but if you’re in the market for a slow-burn, well-acted, beautiful and thoroughly entertaining indie gem, please seek this out at your earliest convenience!

Rating: ★★★★★★★½☆☆

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