Up until Day 22, my horror-a-thon had been largely comprised of fairly forgettable flicks. I’d heard about the pre-release buzz for this one and it was so intense I convinced a co-worker to go see it at FrightFest. And the damn bastard, who got to see it months before I did, and only saw it because I insisted he should, assured me that it was brilliant and oops sorry that I had to wait at least two more months to see it but oh my god it’s amazing well fuck you jerk, you wouldn’t have even booked your damn ticket to see it if I hadn’t told you about it.
I should probably go to FrightFest next year. Only I’d probably have to talk to people, and I’m not very good at that. I recently visited a friend outside of London and accidentally told her favourite bar owner that he looked like Keith Lemon instead of Keith Richards.
[150 words later, I’m ready to talk about the movie. That’s editing for you.]
As one of the tiny handful of characters in We Are Still Here, Barbara Crampton is still as beautiful as she was in Re-Animator. Those expressive eyes never shrank. In this, she plays Anne Sacchetti who, along with her husband Paul (Andrew Sensenig) move into a house in a small New England town after the death of their son. Shortly after, a local couple pop by to introduce themselves and mention that the house has a ghoulish past on account of some violence by and to the original owners. There’s some quasi-spooky weirdness, and then they fuck off.
Grieving parents? Check. 1970s Northeast setting? Check. Old haunted house with spooky cellar? Check. Creepy neighbours? Check.
Except this movie takes the majority of those clichés and strings them upside down on a (figurative) meathook. This one’s a surprisingly clever slow-burner, deftly criss-crossing the line between homage and subversion.
Yes, there’s some clunky dialogue and tragically wooden acting from Lisa Marie (her botched plastic surgery – a type of thing that barely registers with me – helps distract from this), and the odd plot query (was that part of the diner scene absolutely necessary?), but everything else is worth sticking around for. Especially Larry Fessenden (who was pretty impressive in indie horror Jug Face), who acts his socks off in a possession scene that could rival any of Eva Green‘s.
There’s a lot going on in this movie, but writer-director Ted Geoghegan keeps the pace neat and the mood as bleak as its beautifully-shot New England winter setting. The spared use of SFX and VFX keeps us rooted to the film as a non-dated, non-ultra-modernised audience, but the splatter of dark, deadpan humour is a welcome contemporary touch. It’s a beautifully simple film that draws on already well-known horror tropes, but has a bit of bloody good fun with them. Bloody good fun, indeed.