Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Film Review: We Are Still Here (2015)

We Are Still Here (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"It has some pacing issues, the characters are hollow, and the story isn't exactly effective, but I was entertained."

After the tragic death of their son, Anne (Barbara Crampton) and Paul Sacchetti (Andrew Sensenig) move into an isolated house where they are attacked by malevolent spirits...

We Are Still Here is yet another very simple horror film. In terms of plot, there isn't much to discuss. Anne and Paul move into a rural house in New England. Anne feels her son's presence, Paul tries to shrug it off. Anne's beliefs are reaffirmed when they are told about the tragic history of the house. So, Anne invites another couple – a spiritualist couple – to the house in hopes of contacting her son. However, the house and the town have more secrets than they originally imagined. I won't spoil anything for you, even though most of it is predictable. It leads to an incredibly bloody climax and a decent ending.

We Are Still Here is a decent horror film. At first, I thought I was heading into another snorefest a la Anguish. The film starts off by focusing more on scenery than character and story. Scenes where the director favors style over substance are scattered throughout the movie, often slowing the pace to a crawl. Fortunately, it's more focused than a film like Anguish. The plot is simplistic and occasionally cheesy, but it works. I especially enjoyed the backstory for the house. In terms of horror, it has a few jump-scares, some suspense, and plenty of gore. I enjoyed the visuals more than everything else. I've always been a fan of the background-type of horror – a shadow moving in the back, for example.

The acting was... okay. The cast simply did not convey the proper emotion. It's supposed to be tragic – except when it's supposed to be funny – but I just didn't feel anything. It might have been the dialogue. I know the film was going for the 70s vibe a la The House of the Devil, but it didn't feel right. The film is shot well, though, and the music matched the mood. If you like gore, there are some impressive practical effects here. The film is written and directed by Ted Geoghegan. Although I liked that the house was a character on its own, at least in a sense, I would have enjoyed a bit more depth for the actual characters. The direction takes a few tumbles, too, often focusing too much on visuals instead of plot. Otherwise, I think Geoghegan is more than competent and he'll only get better with more experience.

Overall, We Are Still Here is a decent horror film. It has some pacing issues, the characters are hollow, and the story isn't exactly effective, but I was entertained. It is better than other pseudo-arthouse films like Anguish, but it doesn't quite match films like The House of the Devil or The Innkeepers, which have similar styles but better execution. Still, it's worth a rental/stream for fans of the genre.

Score: 5/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore.

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