With his first feature length film, director Ted Geoghegan has come like a bat out of hell to let us know that he has arrived on the horror scene and he is one to be watched. I hesitate to bring up comparisons, but it is absolutely unavoidable to not bring up The House of the Devil when speaking of We Are Still Here and I say that as a huge compliment. The movie opens really, really similar to You’re Next all the way down to the beautiful Barbara Crampton riding to an isolated house where she hears strange noises while cleaning up. Just when you begin to let these similarities go, Larry Fessenden shows up. Mr. Fessenden was the unfortunate gentleman who spent the entirety of You’re Next sitting dead on his couch while enjoying the sounds of the Dwight Twilley Band. O.K. I got that out of the way and now I can gush over this almost perfectly executed throwback of a horror film.
Paul (Andrew Sensenig) and Anne (Barbara Crampton) are moving to a quiet New England farm house after the unfortunate death of their son. Once a funeral parlor, this quaint home comes with a far more sinister history and Paul and Anne have no idea what they will have to face if they want to save themselves and their son’s souls from being pulled into hell.
With that great 70’s feel, this independent horror film starts out with an overall somber and quiet tone that really exemplifies the grief of Anne. It also allows you to, foolishly, relax as you settle into this couple’s new life. After meeting their neighbor Dave McCabe ( a truly menacing Monte Markham), things get a bit kooky, but it isn’t until May and Jacob show up that things really get out of hand. May (Lisa Marie) has psychic abilities and Anne is hoping that she can contact their deceased son and bring everyone some peace.
Continuously giving teasers and hints to what resides in the basement of this old house, you must wait 38 minutes until you really get to see evil and it is totally worth the wait. Geoghegan has created just the right amount of anticipation and when you finally see May and Jacob’s children succumb to the evil spirits that live in this house, it is awesome. There is some seriously beautiful makeup and effects in this movie and the gore accelerates at an even level and just keeps getting better and better. I’m a huge sucker for a great shotgun blast to the head and this movie does not disappoint. One of the rare cases where jump scares are actually acceptable, I fell for every single one of them. Really, enough wonderful things cannot be said about the suspense, terror and bloodshed that occurs in the second act of this film.
So often throwback films are done with love, but not done well and this is, happily, not the case with We Are Still Here. This movie feels like a really cool VHS you might unearth and fall in love with. The entire setting feels intimate, cold and ominous in the most wonderful of ways. As always, Crampton is an icy blonde of the highest caliber and a well honored horror gem. Some of the other actors were a wee bit stiff, but nothing worth specifically calling out. Less is always more and this film is a prime example of that. No detail is missed and every bit of this movie looks gorgeous and completely time appropriate. Forget It Follows. We Are Still Here is the second coming of indie horror.