WE ARE STILL HERE is an interesting mix of Lovecraft and ghosts, gothic spirituality and violent horror. Really WE ARE STILL HERE is little bit of of all of those things thrown into a pot that made a very delectable stew. So let’s dig in.
First up, the acting in the movie is solid. Every character is well realized and the film brings in some of my favorite genre actors (one of whom is also my favorite indie director) to help with that process. Barbara Crampton (everyone who attended our Reanimator screening got an eyeful of Ms. Crampton) plays Anne Sacchetti, a grieving mother and wife to Paul Sacchetti, played by Andrew Sensenig of W. and Upstream Color fame. Crampton brings just enough to the role without being or seeming overwrought. Her sadness, and hope, is apparent in every scene. Later we meet the Sacchettis’ friends Jacob and May Lewis. You’ll know the actress who played May, Lisa Marie, from Sleepy Hollow, Ed Wood and Mars Attacks. Then comes my personal favorite: Larry Fessenden, who has acted in countless films and whose film Beneath still makes swimming in lakes an uncomfortable proposition. Fessenden is fantastic here in his depiction of a middle aged hippie spiritualist.
I went into this movie cold. I had no idea what to expect except that it was probably a ghost story given the title. It was that—a ghost story— but it was so much more than that as well. The cinematography is well composed and certain scenes are just stunning with the cold aesthetic of the winter landscape playing against the smoldering danger in the house. The creature designs are fantastic too, and yes there are creatures in this film. The ghosts here are unlike the ghosts from Crimson Peak. In that film they served as terrifying portents of the future or horrific reminders of the past. In WE ARE STILL HERE the ghosts are creatures of vengeance and flame; monstrous beings who are still seeking to protect to their home. It makes for some intense and interesting viewing.
The movie is a slow burn, but with the third act comes a steady ramping up of the action and the action is earned and deserved, not just thrown in because the film needed some action. Add to that a reveal about the true purpose of the house and you’ve got yourself one interesting set-up. I feel like vague is really the only way to approach a film like this while reviewing it. I went in cold and warmed immediately to the film. I suggest you do the same.
So to recap: great creature design, strong plot and themes and the approach of a ghost story through a Lovecraftian lens (can’t say more than this, spoilers!) make this one ghost story that deserves a moment of your time.