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Worth A Look: 12.5%
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Pretty Bad: 12.5%
Total Crap: 0%

1 review, 2 user ratings

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We Are Still Here
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by Jay Seaver

"Houses seldom get haunted this well."
5 stars

SCREENED AT BOSTON UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL 17: It's funny which little details will make a movie really work for someone. Take "We Are Still Here", for instance; it's quite a well-executed ghost story with a nifty cast, good for a decent star rating even if it does seem to get a little sloppy at points. But where almost every other story like it will have ghosts indicated by cold spots, filmmaker Ted Geoghegan indicates his with heat. It doesn't necessarily change much about the story, but it does indicate that he's not just going with the default settings, and that makes a horror movie much more exciting.

The house in question has just been purchased by the Sacchettis, Anne (Barbara Crampton) and Paul (Andrew Sensenig), looking for a change of scenery after their son died in an automobile accident. Even in a new place, though, Anne is sure she can hear him. Then again, their new neighbor, Dave McCabe (Monte Markham), informs then that their house has a history dating back a hundred years or so, a gruesome tale involving the town's undertaker. It makes for a good reason to invite their friends May and Jacob Lewis to visit, though; in addition to being the parents of their son's college roommate, May (Lisa Marie) claims psychic powers, though Jacob (Larry Fessenden) is mostly an old hippie.

Despite a few references that tie the film into what is perhaps horror's largest and most enduring mythos, We Are Still Here is at heart a thriller made up of well-tested pieces, put together in a way that doesn't break new ground but or make the audience dizzy with twists. Heck, there are times when it almost seems like it needed to be bulked up a bit to get to 85 minutes, with a couple of scare sequences feeling like they could be removed without necessarily hurting the plot much at all. It's not quite transparently showing that someone means business while not tipping the main characters off, but it's kind of close.

It's okay, though, because the scenes in question are quality scares. The effects are mostly if not entirely practical, with phantoms that lurk in the shadows for much of the movie but make fantastically firey appearances when it will best catch the audience off-guard. Things also escalate in impressive fashion, both in terms of being creepy and bloody - the climax is something impressive for a movie that seemed much smaller to start with.

Geoghegan sets his story on the outskirts of a circa 1980 rural New England town, and it's a fine balance between isolated enough that help is not just around the corner in that pre-mobile-phone time and being able to summon a fair amount of people when needed, and it's a nice job putting it together to create that feel. It's one of any number of things that seem to be done with great care, from the way the town seems to be emptying out to certain characters' ambivalence toward being there.

As important as anything, though, is that there's a terrific cast holding it down - even more so because while many have plenty of genre credits, they seem to be a bit outside their usual roles. Barbara Crampton, for instance, gets to carry some very believable grief around, fighting to maintain shreds of hope rather than falling completely into despair. Lisa Marie has served as a sort of inside joke at times, but she's actually kind of perfect as a very down-to-earth psychic, while Larry Fessenden - usually in and out of a movie in five minutes - sticks around for a good while as her husband. Monte Markham steals just about every scene he's in, making McCabe obviously someone with an agenda but also compelling enough to get past defenses.

Together, all those bits have the strange alchemy that makes an audience lean in a little closer, half-knowing what's going to happen but drawn to the details of it. It makes for a terrific little thriller, a quality piece of genre work that pushes all the right buttons in the right order.

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originally posted: 04/19/15 14:18:30
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2015 South by Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2015 South by Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2015 Boston Underground Film Festival For more in the 2015 Boston Underground Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2015 Stanley Film Festival For more in the 2015 Stanley Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2015 Fantasia International Film Festival For more in the 2015 Fantasia International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

2/13/17 morris campbell good horror flick 4 stars
5/24/16 Langano Lame. 2 stars
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  05-Jun-2015 (NR)
  DVD: 06-Oct-2015



Directed by
  Ted Geoghegan

Written by
  Ted Geoghegan

  Barbara Crampton
  Andrew Sensenig
  Larry Fesseden
  Lisa Marie
  Monte Markham

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