Monday, October 26, 2015

#1,897. We Are Still Here (2015)

Directed By: Ted Geoghegan

Starring: Barbara Crampton, Andrew Sensenig, Lisa Marie

Tag line: "This house needs a family"

Trivia: Numerous characters in this film are named after characters or people associated with the Lucio Fulci film The House by the Cemetery

I do love me a good haunted house film, which is what I thought I was getting when I popped 2015’s We Are Still Here into my DVD player. What I got, though, was something else altogether. Written and directed by Ted Goeghegan, We Are Still Here is as much a tribute to Lucio Fulci (notably the maestro’s 1981 film The House by the Cemetery) as it is a ghost flick, taking the standard formula in an unexpected, and fairly terrifying, new direction.

It’s the winter of 1979, and middle-age couple Paul (Andrew Sensenig) and Anne Sacchetti (Barbara Crampton) have moved out of the city and into a secluded house in the small New England town of Aylesbury. Not long after their arrival, Anne begins to sense a presence is there with them, which she believes is the spirit of their son Bobby, who was killed in a car accident two months earlier. Hoping to communicate with him, Anne invites her spiritualist friend May (Lisa Marie) and May’s pot-smoking husband Jacob (Larry Fessenden) to spend the weekend. But as they’ll soon discover, the presence Anne is sensing isn’t that of her late son; it’s the house’s original owner, funeral director Lassander Dagmer (Guy Gane), who, along with his wife and daughter, was allegedly run out of town in the mid 1800’s. According to local legend, an angry Dagmar and his family return every 30 years to claim the lives of the house’s newest occupants, and unfortunately for the Sacchetti’s, the 30 year wait is just about up...

Setting the tone early on, director Geoghegan opens We Are Still Here with a stylish, snow-filled pre-title sequence, which establishes just how isolated the former Dagmer house is; it’s so far off the beaten path, in fact, that it takes two weeks for the nearest neighbors, the McCabe’s (Monte Markham and Connie Neer), to realize someone has moved in. From there, the movie settles into what seems to be normal haunted house territory, with noises emanating from the dank, eerie basement and the odd shadow scurrying across the floor. But rest assured: things don’t stay quiet very long, and by the movie's halfway point, it’s clear that We Are Still Here isn't your typical ghost flick (even the séance scene, which comes standard with movies of this ilk, is more intense than you’d expect).

As mentioned above, We Are Still Here has a lot in common with The House by the Cemetery (Fulci's third entry in a trilogy that included 1980’s City of the Living Dead and ‘81s The Beyond). Not only are the stories similar (both have basements that act as a portal for an evil spirit), but We Are Still Here also features plenty of Fulci-esque gore (especially in the final act), making it one of the more entertaining recent entries in the supernatural subgenre.

If you’re a fan of ghost movies, ‘80s Italian horror, or both, We Are Still Here should immediately jump to the top of your “must-see” list.

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