We Are Still Here
June 5, 2015
ed Geoghegan and Richard Griffin (based on an idea by)
Barbara Crampton as Anne Sacchetti
Andrew Sensenig as Paul Sacchetti
Lisa Marie as May Lewis
Larry Fessenden as Jacob Lewis
Monte Markham as Dave McCabe
Drop what you’re doing, plan your schedule for this coming June 5th, and make your viewing ofWe Are Still Here a top priority – ‘cause, DAMN – this is a horror film worthy of the hype, worthy of your almighty dollar and worthy of a gushing (blood?) review!
I’ve been hearing talk of this film and its warm reception at film festivals far and wide for the past several months.
The other day, my editor sends me an email, simply asking, “Do you want to cover this?”
No disrespect intended to the powers-that-be — i.e. those who sign the checks – but…
Anne and Paul Sacchetti (Barbara Crampton and Andrew Sensenig) have left behind the city after a tragic car accident killed their college-aged son; Bobby – with a move to an old house in the country. It’s been only two months, so everything in their lives is still raw. The house is old, and predictably still “inhabited” (thus the title of the film). Their timing couldn’t be worse, as this house and indeed the nearby village are filled with nasty secrets, which boil over into black horror and bloody mayhem every 30 years. Anne believes that the spirit of their dead son has followed them to this new place, and that he is the one who is attempting to make contact – in all manner of creepy ways.
I posted a review on another film recently, with a very similar set-up. In We Are Still Here, however, the story may begin with that tried-n-true cliché (devastated and grief-stricken family moves to new home which is haunted), but it transcends the norm and turns into something dark, terrifying and truly evil. This film is a very good time.
Oh, Ms. Barbara Crampton. We’ve drooled over you, appreciated you and loved you for so many years now – but with this and the fun You’re Next and so many other horror projects both currently on the burner and from the last few years – girl, it feels like a welcome comeback of sorts. Your performance was understated, true and when the s*** hit the fan – a hard and fast reminder that you are indeed a scream queen. Those opening shots of you, all red-nosed, soggy-eyed and devastated – well, it was immediately clear that this film was your vehicle and that you were going to give us all of your glorious talent. I commend you, and although you’ve not been gone per se, I embrace your return with open arms.
And her partner – Mr. Sacchetti (Andrew Sensenig) – is right along with her. He’s a skeptic and clearly trying to hold his own emotions in check, in order to keep his wife in control of her grief. Sensenig keeps his character on eggshells, nay-saying much of what his on-screen wife is saying, finding logical reasons for the intense heat in the basement and the ever-lingering scent of smoke. Sensenig is an evenly matched actor for Ms. Crampton. They are a believable and terrific team.
The supporting cast includes horror stalwart Larry Fessenden (channeling The Shining’s Jack Nicholson/Jack Torrance – both in look and behavior) and the Mars Attacks! poster-girl herself, Lisa Marie. They play Jacob and May Lewis; the parents of Bobby’s college chum. They are a stark contrast to the conservative Sacchettis. Anne asks them to the house for the weekend, hoping that their “earthy” ways and May’s other-worldly abilities, may help them make contact with Bobby.
Monte Markham (best known to me as Blanche’s gay brother Clayton on a few classic episodes ofThe Golden Girls) is nearby neighbor, Dave. He pops over uninvited to the Sacchetti house soon after the move-in. He and his wife are terribly peculiar – immediately telling the ghastly stories of the house’s history, swallowing their generously-offered whiskeys in one gulp before quickly departing.
And to the meat of what you’re really searching for. If scares ye be seeking, look no further.
The “boo” moments are abrupt (nicely catching you off guard), frequent and very curse-worthy. Keep your swear jar close at hand. And speaking of hands, have them ready to cover your eyes, followed by the always fun “peek-a-boo” with the terror on screen. One particular occasion had me dealing with honest-to-God goose-bumps as I slid my legs tighter into my body. It’s a scene late in the film, where two characters decide to hold an impromptu séance. It doesn’t follow the direction you would expect, and right along with the characters, you’ll say to your movie-going partner (s), “What did he just say?” Absolutely chilling.
Pardon the pun (you’ll get it when you see the film), but the slow burn of the film builds some lovely tension. It’s one of those nail-biting films, where each moment of horror keeps you eagerly anticipating what’s going to be thrown at you next. And by the time the insane climax hits you, the subtle touches of the first two acts are quickly forgotten. The film does a complete turn-around, effects-wise – and yet it still takes you in.
And while we’re on the subject of building tension —
The one and only complaint I have – and it’s a pretty small one – is the over-use of so many eerie establishing shots of the home and the grounds. Yes, the house is important to the story and yes you talented filmmakers have found a great location during a perfectly snowy and dreary winter season – so please use it – it’s great. But don’t over-use it. Savvy?
There are lots of fun horror film references in the film. Keep your eyes peeled for several trinkets ofA Nightmare on Elm Street, and per the film’s IMDb page, bits from Lucio Fulci’s classics – The Beyond and The House by the Cemetery also make appearances. Take away my horror nerd card, but I’ve seen neither, so the references were sadly lost on me. Forgive. And the ghosts in the house are direct descendants in appearance of the vengeful pirates in John Carpenter’s The Fog.
Isn’t it funny how some horror films can steal/use/pay tribute to legendary horror films of past eras, and all we can do is snicker/sneer/judge, while films like the one at hand choose to do the same thing, and all we can do is shower it with oodles of praise? I guess it’s a matter of “credit where credit is due”.
We Are Still Here opens in theatres and on VOD on June 5th. Stake claim to your seats now.