Following the death of their son in a car crash, a grieving couple relocate to a small rural town but their new home is already occupied by vengeful spirits requiring retribution for violence done against them years before. Ted Geoghegan’s film is a love letter to 70’s Euro horror starring horror royalty Barbara Crampton and Larry Fessenden with specific nods to Lucio Fulci’s classics The House by the Cemetary and The Beyond. Anne and Paul Sacchetti’s terrorisation starts early and gradually builds as the house creaks, shadows move, the cellar swelters and the house demands its sacrifices. A grief stricken Anne is convinced the supernatural disturbances are her son trying to communicate with them from beyond the grave so they invite their spiritualist friends to help them make contact. However something far darker reaches out and as their troubles extend into the township it becomes apparent that Anne and Paul have far more to worry about than things that go bump in the night.
Geoghegan’s film is part of a growing trend in horror where modern filmmakers attempt to emulate the style, tone and gore of genre films of yesteryear. Ti West’s The House of the Devil was the first to garner any real acclaim and so it’s no surprise that the producer’s of We Are Still Here were also behind that film. However, whilst House left me bored rigid Still Here left me unnerved throughout and I would argue is a greater evocation of period horror than West’s film ever managed. It is peppered with loving nods to Fulci including a cellar with a dark secret and wide shots of a car driving through snowy landscapes that reminded me of both The Beyond and Don’t Torture A Duckling. However, I think Geoghegan’s greatest achievement is through framing and colour grading because you actually feel like you’re watching a film from the 70’s and not a modern production.
It’s also worth mentioning the acting in the film. Whether it was a conscious effort to emulate some of the more wooden performances of the genre or it is indeed just dodgy acting, it worked for me and gave the film an added layer of authenticity. Lisa Marie as the spiritualist May pouts her way through some suitably cheesy lines including my favourite, “We don’t need to find the darkness here Paul. It’s everywhere.” A special mention should also go to Monte Markham as the town’s leader, because he chews up the scenery every time he’s on screen but adds real gravitas to the film, especially when alongside Crampton.
I really enjoyed We Are Still Here. Admittedly being a big fan of Fulci and Italian horror I was probably an easy sell but still the film manages to pull off what a lot of other modern horror films don’t, that is being stylish whilst genuinely scary. I saw it at a late night screening and I’d recommend folks watch it with the lights off, in the dark and preferably not alone.