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Haunted Sideshow

Dustin Putman

We Are Still Here  (2015)
2½ Stars
Directed by Ted Geoghegan.
Cast: Barbara Crampton, Andrew Sensenig, Larry Fessenden, Lisa Marie, Monte Markham, Susan Gibney, Michael Patrick, Kelsea Dakota, Guy Gane III, Elissa Dowling, Zorah Burress, Marvin Patterson, Connie Neer.
2015 – 83 minutes
Not Rated (equivalent of an R for strong bloody violence and gore, and for language).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman for, October 6, 2015.
Anne (Barbara Crampton) and Paul Sacchetti (Andrew Sensenig) have experienced a loss no parent should have to go through. Two months ago, their grown son was killed in a car crash, and only now have they begun to remotely pick up the pieces. Hoping that a change of scenery will do them good, they move from the city to the tiny rural community of Aylesbury. They are partially aware of their home's storied, century-plus past—it was built in the mid-1800s, and was once used as a funeral parlor—but do not think much of it. When Anne almost immediately senses a supernatural presence, she is convinced their late son has followed them to their new dwelling. As the grieving couple will soon realize, however, entities of much more malevolent intent are lying in wait, ready to latch themselves to anyone who steps foot through the door.

"We Are Still Here" revolves around a core mystery that neither leads to the huge "ah-ha!" moment one expects nor delivers the full dramatic catharsis one hopes. It is to writer-director Ted Geoghegan's credit, then, that the film still conjures an unsettling medley within its cauldron. Geoghegan and cinematographer Karim Hussain are clearly lovers of tone and observation, as interested in establishing a setting and their milieu's encroaching threats as they are in their characters. Indeed, atmosphere seeps from the picture's every pore, the frosty, snowswept landscape standing in contrast to the supernatural inferno lurking indoors. Lonesome images of unoccupied rooms, of barren tree branches hanging like spindly tentacles, of gusts of wind rustling up tunnels of snow, and of shadowy, overheated cellars where evil lurks are just a few of the evocative visuals responsible for creating the movie's vivid, eerie aura.

Better at suggesting rather than delivering, "We Are Still Here" is creepiest during its anticipatory phase, before the spectral villains have been revealed in full. Barbara Crampton (2013's "You're Next") and Andrew Sensenig (2013's "Upstream Color") give Anne and Paul the full weight of their sorrow as a middle-aged couple dealing with grave loss who inadvertently find themselves in harm's way. Once the supporting players are introduced—visiting friends May (Lisa Marie) and Jacob (Larry Fessenden), their son Harry (Michael Patrick) and his girlfriend Maddie (Susan Gibney)—the supernatural forces manifest in increasingly violent ways. Touches of paranoia and a long-buried secret lingering throughout the town follow, but the gory third act gets in the way of locating the pathos inherent in Anne and Paul's personal plight. "We Are Still Here" lacks restraint, sometimes to its detriment, but the film has nevertheless been mounted with a meticulous, mood-drenched sensibility. It is an old-school throwback with a classy, savage edge.
© 2015 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman

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