We Are Still Here – 2015
Written and Directed by Ted Geoghegan
Starring Barbara Crampton, Andrew Sensenig, Larry Fessenden, Lisa Marie
We Are Still Here is the kind of film that would have been right at home in the 70’s. The cast is spare with vast experience in all sorts of films. The story they are asked to translate is a simple one. A middle-aged couple Anne and Paul (Crampton and Sensenig) move into an unspectacular home in a rural New England town called Aylesbury. It doesn’t take long for the mourning Anne to find evidence that they are not alone. Thinking it is her son, she invites some friends over to do a seance…or something.
Before this can happen, they are visited by town elder statesman Dave McCabe (Markham) and his wife. They give some ominous portents. As they are leaving, his wife gives them a hidden message. “The house wants families,” her note implores. “Get Out.”
The story is surprisingly solid. It moves along briskly and doesn’t allow much room for the viewer to wonder what will happen. The twist that takes place over the last 1/3 of the film is only part of the story, though. Anyone who stays through the credits gets another view of the events. The music, along with the visuals, presents a creepier view and lends a feeling of righteousness that one may not experience if they just see the moving pictures.
The special effects are pretty decent for a low-budget film. More importantly, the director plays with the visuals enough from scene to scene, so one never gets the feeling that these guys hired all of their friends for no pay and long hours. It’s a story that they are telling, and it is a chilling tale that one experiences for the most part.
Having middle-aged leads adds to the authentic feeling. Younger actors tend to have less to draw on and their looks of terror seem more manufactured. In this case, Crampton and Sensenig are not tempted to run upstairs when they are the last ones to bed. They’ve seen a lot in life, and they wear the drawn out horror of losing a son as a shield. Anne even welcomes the thought of having the company of her son, if she can.
This is not an earth-shattering experience, but it is authentic enough to call for a bigger budget and more creative space for Geoghegan to explore some more ideas.
(***1/2 out of *****)