Sunday, October 4, 2015

WE ARE STILL HERE (2015) Blu-ray Review

We Are Still Here (2015) d. Ted Geoghagen (USA) (84 min)

After their teenage son is killed in a car crash, grieving couple Anne (Barbara Crampton) and Paul (Andrew Sensenig) purchase a vacant New England home to escape the painful memories. As the horror fates would have it, though, the new residence – a former funeral parlor, no less – hosts a congregation of restless spirits that may or may not be using their child’s aura to mislead them. To further complicate matters, the local human residents are a close-knit and superstitious lot, believing the angry afterlifers to be demanding of a sacrifice; “This house needs a family,” they say, with forked tongues flicking. Paul and Anne call their hippie spiritualist friends May (Lisa Marie) and Jacob (Larry Fessenden) to help them conduct a séance and things just get livelier from there.

I’d been hearing great things about this haunted house story from first-time director Geoghagen since it started making the festival rounds last year, so it was with no small degree of expectations that I finally sat down to engage. The good news? We Are Still Here is indeed a solid slow-burn yarn boasting great performances and loads of creepy atmospherics. The less-great news is the convoluted storyline surrounding the haunting itself – of the half-dozen folks I watched it with, not one of us could come up with a satisfactory explanation for why things fell out the way they did in the final reel.

Considering the austere quality of Geoghagen’s script, the final results should have been less muddy – I’m all for ambiguity, but not so much for internal illogic. Ghost stories are inherently grounded in their cause/effect relationships – the spirits want something, there are rules as to how they can achieve said desires, etc. Here, events are a little more random, and viewers will have to decide for themselves as to how much slack they want to cut in order to go along for the ride.

This quibble aside, I’m happy to give the film a hearty recommendation for its willingness to populate the screen with middle-aged characters, brought to full flower by a grounded and talented cast. (Crampton is enjoying a marvelous post-ReAnimator second act with this and You’re Next, and Fessenden is always a welcome presence, even minus his trademark gap-tooth – the first time I’ve seen him without it, and I’m wondering how Geoghagen convinced him to wear a dental bridge.) With a bit more clarity in storytelling, this could have been a modern classic; instead, it’s a worthy introduction to a promising new voice in the horror firmament.

Darksky Films’ new Blu-ray release sports an audio commentary track with Geoghagen and producer Travis Stevens (Starry Eyes, Cheap Thrills), as well as behind-the-scenes footage and theatrical trailers.

We Are Still Here is available October 6 from DarkSky Films and can be ordered HERE:


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