We Are Still Here (2015)

This house needs a family

Writer: Ted Geoghegan
Director: Ted Geoghegan

We are Still Here is apparently a tribute to Lucio Fulci’s ‘The House By The Cemetery (1981)’. Perhaps, but apart from a splattery finale and some plot elements there’s little similarity – which for me is not a bad thing.

The film begins with Anne (Barbara Crampton) and Paul (Andrew Sansenig) moving to a house in an isolated rural town following the death of their son. However the house has a history – it used to be the local mortuary and there are unpleasant stories about what happened to the corpses.

Soon after Anne and Paul move in strange things start happening; Anne thinks it’s the
spirit of their son but her psychic friend May (Lisa Marie) thinks there’s an evil presence. It’s not long before we discover that there are very definitely Things in the basement.

We Are Still Here film grabbed me from the very start with its visuals and Geoghegan’s direction. The opening scenes are full of atmosphere. However unlike many horror films the initial impression isn’t one of threat and foreboding, it’s one of depression. Misery seeps out of every desolate, snow covered shot. Classy and appropriate for the back story. Once things get going Geoghegan shows himself to be equally adept at the slow burn scares.

Acting is generally solid. Larry Fessenden hams it up for light relief as stoner Jacob. Monte Markham’s portrayal of local infodump Dave is less successful – instead of being threatening he comes over as a Scooby Doo villain. But overall it has the makings of a very good albeit unoriginal haunted house movie.

The problem comes about halfway through when the story starts to shift. It turns out that there’s some sort of dark presence under the house that wakes every 30 years and requires sacrifice. Suddenly it all feels very tacky.

Full marks to Geoghegan for trying to take the story in an unexpected direction, but it really doesn’t work. Not only is the ’30 year sacrifice’ old hokum, it’s never really explained (though there are strong hints that the house is built on a Fulcian Gate of Hell).

There are simply too many loose ends, unanswered questions and plot holes. It all feels like hand waving to cover an unfinished story. I have a suspicion that the answers to these are all in Geoghegan’s mind, unfortunately they didn’t make it into the script – not even in expository end credits. Combining this with the cliches that actually are included and the ending I was dreading results in a film that is visually superb and atmospheric but ultimately unsatisfying.