We Are Still Here (2015)

We Are Still Here ArtworkStarring Barbara Crampton, Andrew Sensenig, Lisa Marie, Larry Fessenden

Directed by Ted Geoghegan


The surnames of lead characters Anne and Paul Sacchetti (Crampton and Sensenig, respectively) should provide a good indication of where director Ted Geoghegan draws inspiration for his debut feature, We Are Still Here.

Grieving after the loss of their son in a car accident, the Sacchettis relocate to the sleepy New England town of Aylsesbury, where they hope to come to terms with their loss and rebuild their fracturing relationship.

All seems welcoming and polite in the beginning, and Anne starts to believe that odd occurrences in the house are due to the friendly spirit of their son, Bobby – but there are darker forces at play. Namely, the Dagmar family – a trio of burned-up ghouls residing in the cellar who like nothing more than to lay their burning hands on any soul unfortunate enough to encounter them.

Beyond that, still, is another layer of darkness which will see the Sacchettis caught between walls of horror with very little chance of escape.

Owing much to the work of Italian maestro Lucio Fulci – especially the creeping terror of The House by the CemetaryWe Are Still Here is an out-and-out exercise in sheer horror. You won’t find any goofy humour, overtly winking references or in-jokes, nor even a feeling of safety for any single character throughout. Hearkening to his inspiration, Geoghegan takes mature, adult characters and drops them right into the middle of an horrific situation – sitting back to watch the mystery and dread unfold at what, in We Are Still Here, proves to be a perfectly measured pace.

Crampton and Sensenig are excellent in their roles – the former entrenched in her bleary-eyed grief while the latter attempts to uphold a sense of normalcy in everyday life… yet, Sensenig delivers a performance that is alive with subdued sorrow behind his stony facade. The villains are exceptionally designed and scary as hell. White-eyed, with blackened, cracking burnt flesh and an ember-raising touch of death, the Dagmars are a force to be reckoned with – spectres fueled by absolute, uncompromising hatred.

Where the film truly takes off is a scene involving the excellent Larry Fessenden. Attempting to channel the spirit of the Sacchettis’ son during an impromptu séance, things go horribly, terrifyingly awry in a manner that is slowly made apparent through little more than increasingly vicious dialogue. It’s a startling scene that will raise the hair on your neck with its promise of very, very bad things to come.

And very bad things do indeed come as Geoghegan throws out a gore-filled finale that sees the house receiving a brand new coat of paint through some effective, splattery practical effects.

Though it does tend to get rather expository as it lays out the pieces of its puzzle towards the end, We Are Still Here proves a riveting piece of work. Compelling, frightening, gory and grim, this is a true modern slice of classic horror that ultimately succeeds through strong storytelling, no shortage of talent and a real ability to get under the skin. Thoroughly recommended.

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Gareth Jones

Copywriter and critic sporting a lifelong obsession with all things horror. A little bit sane.

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