Posted on April 1, 2016

We Are Still Here (2015) Review

Gwen

2015   |   Not Rated   |   USA   | Ted Geoghegan     |   84 min

Grade:  C

Synopsis: After losing their son, Anne (Barbara Crampton) and Paul (Andrew Sensenig) Sacchetti move to rural New York to cope with their recent tragedy. Upon moving into the 120 year old home, the Sacchettis come to realize that it also endured a few traumas of its own. Anne mistakenly assumes that her son Bobby is reaching out to her from the grave, so she invites family friends and spiritual gurus May (Lisa Marie) and Jacob (Larry Fessenden) Lewis to solicit some answers. What they find is an evil deeply entrenched in the town itself that lurches forth every 30 years…and you guessed it, the Sacchettis moved in right at the 30 year benchmark.

ReviewWe Are Still Here is just…kinda…there.

Nuts and Bolts: We Are Still Here is a good movie. There are no dreadful flaws, nor any amazing crescendos. I typically stay away from reading reviews when I pick which movies to watch; however, as I anxiously wait for my copy of Haunted Honeymoon (1986) to arrive, I got caught up in the internet and saw some amazing reviews of We Are Still Here that piqued my interest. Unfortunately the reviews pumped the movie up so much that it didn’t take much to set me up for a letdown. So I will let you make up your own mind but I will at least tell you what works and what doesn’t work.

What works:

The acting. My personal favorites were a show-stealing soliloquy by Jacob Lewis (Fessenden) that was reminiscent of Jack Nicholson in The Shining (1980).  Dave McCabe (Monte Markham) delivers a convincing performance that makes the audience love to hate him. Finally, there were wonderful insertions of talent and skill from the auxiliary character Cat McCabe (Connie Neer).

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One of the things that I love about horror is the continuous dialogue between films. Unlike any other genre, horror speaks to its viewers through a uniquely insider language. Although the film is set in 1979, there are fun references within the film to several 80s films, and the special effects are much more reminiscent of early 80s films than the nihilistic 1970s.[i] The gore in this film is plentiful and spurts and splats throughout the film in an almost comical 1980s fashion. Despite the demons, I am pretty convinced that the reason the Sacchettis have so many problems in the new house is because of the carnal sin that Anne committed when she threw away a perfectly good Atari.

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Another thing that works is the house and its true inhabitants. I really enjoyed the back story of the house and the evil it contains. I almost would have enjoyed the movie more if it had been solely about the history of the home. I know many people will disagree with my assessment, but I felt that the Sacchettis’ narrative was inconsequential and only useful for granting access to more interesting tales.

What doesn’t work:

My overall assessment of this film is that it suffers from flaws in pacing and narrative. As I said before, the Sacchettis are not very engaging. It is easy to lose interest in them and their story. They are as plain as the décor in their home. The only thing that is compelling about them is that somehow they managed to have really cool friends like May and Jacob. The film does have two interesting deaths before the 45-minute mark but it still manages to drag until the 60-minute point. There are lengthy gaps between stimulating tidbits and there are several stories going on which contribute to the film’s coming across as disjointed.

It was maddening that you never really get to know what is living under the house. Even the horrific reincarnation of chief spook, Lassander Dagmar (via Jake) implies that there was something on the grounds before his untimely death, “they sacrificed us to the gods they dug up when they built this place. Nobody knew what was under this house until it was too late. They opened something awful and it needed a family.” This leaves me grossly dissatisfied.

Furthermore, the film’s tagline is “the house needs a family” but this doesn’t seem to ever fully tie in to the origin of evil. First of all, the house seems to have a family in the Dagmars, and according to the story there was evil before the house was ever built since the house was unknowingly built upon the evil. Lastly, the ending of the film was lukewarm and lost me at the touching gesture of clasping hands and knowingly nods.

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[i] http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3520418/trivia?tab=mc&ref_=tt_trv_cnn lists some horror connections within the film as does http://filmschoolrejects.com/features/we-are-still-here-commentary.php

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