A woman and her husband move to a large, old house in New England soon after the death of their son. Everyone in town seems to take note that someone is moving into that particular house, and the family will soon learn why. It has been 30 years since a horrible event occured, and it is time for whatever is sleeping to wake up again.
Bear with me, I will get to "We Are Still Here". But first...
We are currently in an era of film where everyone wants to recreate the style and atmosphere of classics. It's not so much homages anymore, something which became more frequent after film nerds like Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino started making a fuss in the '90s, but more about trying to fit in with the old movies. There are movies out there that try hard to even look and act like they were made in the '70s. Of course, most of these movies fall flat and miss the point completely. We are looking at most independent movies who jumped on the grindhouse-wagon but seemed to forget that movies back then weren't really trying to be cheap and silly. They just were. That's why they were amazing. The people behind the movies wanted to create a great movie. People try to recreate those movies now, yet they think that pushing as stupid shit as they can in them will make them qualify as grindhouse or retro.
Eventually the thought-process behind the "throwback" has slowly settled in the right spot when it comes to supernatural/occult horror. It's at a point where they actually take it seriously. We have a movie like "The House of the Devil", which stays wonderfully true to its inspirations. Some big mainstream titles have figured out that "less is more" makes sense, so we've gotten movies like "Insidious", "The Conjuring", "The Innkeepers", "Sinister" and what-have-you. These are flawed movies that at some point steered in the wrong direction, but they absolutely went about it in the right way to begin with.
This is where "We Are Still Here" comes in. This is a movie that is obviously inspired by all the right sources - and it doesn't miss its mark! It grows naturally into the style of the classics. It's a throwback in many ways but it doesn't stand over your face and slamming you with all the pieces that it does right, you just feel them. One of the most peculiar things about "We Are Still Here" for me is how typical its plot is - yet how little it actually impacts it negatively. There is a reason why movies about families moving into new houses have been done for decades, but for a long time that hasn't worked well in movies at all. In "We Are Still Here" we have a family in a new house, but it feels as fresh as it did when "The Evil Dead" put young adults in a cabin.
Anne and Paul Sacchetti are moving into an old house in a small town in New England soon after the death of their adult son (as a way to start fresh and not be reminded of him). Two weeks after moving in, a couple introduces themselves as their neighbors wanting to welcome the couple. It turns out that there is a strange history to the house and that it has been 30 years since anyone lived there. Anne has been feeling strange things in the house and keeps thinking about her son, but the presence is something much more evil. They invite the parents of their son's roommate over as the mother has an interest in the paranormal.
Many things in "We Are Still Here" are clichéed, but also serves as a reminder as to why those things became clichées. They can actually work! Ted Geoghegan has created one of the best supernatural throwback horrors of recent years with "We Are Still Here", but it's not all on him. In front of the camera we have great performances by Barbara Crampton, Andrew Sensenig, Lisa Marie, Larry Fessenden and Monte Markham that bring the roles to life, helping the movie stay protected from all that is wrong with characters in new movies. Behind the camera we have modern horror cinematography legend Karim Hussain, making sure to deliver a brooding and atmospheric style.
We are big fans and good friends of special effect guru Marcus Koch. Marcus and his FX team in Oddtopsy FX might have topped themselves in many of the effects here, and this might be one of the best titles associated with them. And that's coming from a big fan! It's important to mention the effects of "We Are Still Here" because at first the movie is introducing itself as a slow supernatural thriller, but it goes out in a huge bang where Oddtopsy FX are really getting their time in front of the camera. I don't think it spoils anything to say that the movie ends up on a very gory note, all while keeping its perfectly laid out atmosphere intact.
The only little thing I can possibly mention as a negative thing about "We Are Still Here" is that certain things are shown a bit too soon. It doesn't hurt the movie much, but it was one of the few areas where you could see digital effects. That said, the effects are subtle and don't look too bad, but you see them out in the open quite early. This is a very small thing to mention, considering how picky I have became. Another tiny negative that is actually a positive in disguise is the runtime of the movie. I enjoyed the movie so much that when it ended it felt like it was too soon. But then I remember all the times I wish for a movie to end and they continue. Taking that into consideration proves that "We Are Still Here" ended just right: you have seen a lot, but you're not tired of it.
There is much to say about "We Are Still Here" and the entire team behind it and almost all of it is positive. This is one of my favorite modern supernatural horrors and I see no reason for you to skip it. Yes, it introduces many old ideas but it does it just right. For someone who has been mostly associated with German splatter, Ted Geoghegan took me by a storm. He does not have a lot under his director's filmography, but I hope that this is the start of a legacy. Hyperbole? You can bet your ass! There are times when that's justified.