Ah, yeah! The Diva in her element! That’s right, nothing makes me happier in a theater than a truly scary horror movie, and let me tell you, We Are Still Here by Ted Geoghegan delivers!
This movie starts out predictably enough, a traumatized couple moves into a new house after the recent death of their adult son. The wife, Anne, played by Barbara Crampton is mourning hardcore, because, well, she’s a mom. The husband, Paul, played by Andrew Sensenig, is doing his best to help her through this difficult time and it appears he decided buying a quaint house in a small town was the solution to helping her cope. Of course, the house has some major issues. Well, evil, murderous issues, and Anne’s the first to notice that things aren’t quite right.
Any fan of horror movies will quickly recognize all the harbingers of what is coming next, and truly, this movie isn’t about shocking plot twists and surprises. Within 20 minutes, you know exactly where the storyline is heading. It becomes obvious that the entire movie is an homage to classic horror from the 70s and 80s, and Geoghegan deftly makes the journey refreshing and terrifying. He draws from familiar elements without being insulting or pandering and doesn’t overdo it with eye-rolling techniques to scare the audience. When the scares happen, you really aren’t bracing yourself for them. They make you jump with earnest fear because you are actually invested in the story.
Esthetically, this movie is gorgeous even though it feels, well, hateful. We are not dealing with a friendly environment here and I love how that comes through in each shot. There is no comfort offered to the audience, however, the tension isn’t full-throttle. You are given time to absorb and relate to the characters, but apart from some quirky moments with a character played by the ever charismatic Larry Fessenden, you won’t get any warm-and-fuzzies here! And the ending, ah, such a fun payoff! If I didn’t hate spoilers so much, I’d spend a whole page sharing my thoughts on it with you!
It was also cool that the main characters were age-appropriate. They are somewhere in their mid to late forties/early fifties, and their son was an adult when he died. This really worked for me, because let’s face it, in most horror movies of this kind, we are asked to believe that super-hot twenty-somethings with multiple children can afford to transplant to enormous houses after the debilitating expenses of whatever trauma makes them move in the first place. I can more easily accept that at their age, this couple has a hefty savings account and years of income under their belt. Also, I love that Geoghegan fully acknowledges the vulnerability and complexity of parents mourning their child, regardless of their age.
After screening this creepy gem of the movie, I am for sure going to dig up Geoghegan’s other works. I admire his nuanced treatment of this film and I encourage any fan of haunted house/ghost movies to check it out. In earnest appreciation of your hard work, I look forward to the next one!
Diva Del Mar