While I can’t say there’s necessarily been a ‘buzz’ brewing over “We Are Still Here”, it’s safe to say that the name has been popping up here and there in various circles. My friend CC over at Bloody Good Horror gave it a 10 out of 10, which is a big deal. CC’s a strong critic, she doesn’t through 10′s out lightly. Needless to say, I was intrigued.
As I began to dig around for more info on the flick, I stumbled across the IMDb Listing. I quickly became more curious. This movie promised a stellar cast! Barbara Crampton is a genre veteran all the way back to “Re-Animator”. She’s a damn fine actress! You’ve probably seen Larry Fessenden in more horror flicks than you realize. He’s a pretty hardworking genre actor. Even Andrew Sensening and Lisa Marie are familiar faces throughout film in general. The listing really leads us to think that “We Are Still Here” might have some potential with a main cast so packed with experience. In fact, the only relatively unknown factor, at least to me, was writer/director Ted Geohegan. While the man has a number of producing credits and writing credits, I myself had never really seen his work, so I wasn’t sure what I was in store for.
What I found was a throw back horror film that packs a tightly woven slow burn that evolves into all out chaos that left me on the edge of my seat and dare I say…scared!
Pacing in movies of this type is often crucial and for “We Are Still Here”, the pacing was nailed. Throughout the movie we move slowly, but always feeling like something is lurking just behind us. Mixed with fleeting glimpses of something actually lurking in the shadows, without showing us a grand payoff of what we’re seeing until much later, we get a stifling atmosphere filled with tension and mystery. Just what has happened to this sad and lonely couple living out here in the middle of nowhere? What is it that that lurks in the basement, fleeting just off screen into the shadows? The film moves just slow enough and entices you with things off to the side so that your imagination runs wild on what could be over there in the dark.
As I mentioned earlier, the cast in “We are Still Here” is fantastic. The standouts being Barbara Crampton and Larry Fessenden. Barbara comes across as frail and disturbed, with a tragic happening in her past that has altered her state of being. We learn more of these happenings over the course of the movie, but she does a wonderful job of conveying just how broken up she is. You can’t help but feel sad for her and empathize from the very beginning, which leads to a heavy duty emotional punch by the end of the film. Larry Fessenden on the other hand, comes across as Larry Fessenden often does; disheveled, quirky and a bit hammy. His character takes a specific turn late in the film though that shows us just what this character actor is capable of, and when he’s running full bore, it’s hard to look away. The other actors in the film do well mind you. All of them have some twists and turns, though some have less of an impact than others. They simply don’t have as big a part of the story.
There are so many aspects to this movie, that lead to making it one of the more enjoyable horror films as of late. It drips atmosphere that will leave you unsettled and has a story that is plausible and makes sense, all while delivering some chills of its own. There aren’t too many twists and turns in the story, it’s fairly straight forward. For this type of film though, they deliver all of the needed back story for everything, doled out over time to keep the hook baited and keep you watching. It’s really well put together.
Then, comes the fun part of “We Are Still Here”. As I said at the top, this film is a slow burner. It takes a lot of time for things to unfold and play out, leading a meandering path to a final climax. When that climax finally comes, “We Are Still Here” erupts into chaos that manages to entertain, frighten and even surprise, all at the same time! There are great makeup effects at work as we are finally treated to full on imagery of what’s been lurking in the shadows. There are blood and guts galore. There’s violence, both surprising and gratuitous! There are many times that slow burner films tend to disappoint with too small of a payoff. Not with “We Are Still Here”. You’ll find yourself both a little giddy, maybe a little grimy by the end of it. You’ll definitely leave feeling fulfilled.
For a true sign of quality horror? I see myself as a bit of a hardened horror fan these days. Perhaps, a bit jaded. I’ve seen a ton of horror movies over the years and not much surprises me. While watching “We Are Still Here”, I had all the lights off in the living room for full effect. When Colleen walked into the living room, I didn’t see her having been too drawn into the movie. When suddenly she snapped on the kitchen light? I jumped about a foot off the couch while screaming, “Oh Shit!” That’s the sure sign of some quality scares!