Actress Barbara Crampton has been in the horror game for a long time. Starring in Re-Animator, From Beyond, and Castle Freak, she was an obvious favorite of director, Stuart Gordon. She has recently revamped her horror career in the last five years with roles in You’re Next, The Lords of Salem, We Are Still Here, and Tales of Halloween. Most of Crampton’s early roles were for campy films, but I thought she did a solid job in You’re Next and was expecting the same in We Are Still Here. Instead, it seems like she has had one too many face lifts and one too many Xanax. I know that is harsh but she falls very flat here! I can look past subpar acting if the movie is good, but I was also disappointed in the movie itself which is a heartbreak because I really wanted to love this movie.
I love horror movies with a throw-back vibe like in It Follows and The House of the Devil, and We Are Still Here captures this feel being set in the 1970’s. Anne (Crampton) and Paul, an older couple, move to a new home in snowy and secluded New England. Anne seems fragile, with her red-ringed eyes as if she has been crying, and her depressed demeanor. She and Paul have recently lost their son and are looking for a fresh start in a new town and a new home… but the house has a history of its own. Anne mistakes a deadly presence in the house as her recently deceased son. It is something far more sinister, begging the question, who is the ‘we’ in We Are Still Here?
We Are Still Here has the perfect recipe to be a success, but somehow it goes up in smoke. It could be the lack of a chilling atmosphere, or the only semi-convincing back-story, or the unsatisfactory CGI effects. I appreciate the scene of a ball mysteriously rolling down the stairs as a tribute to The Changeling (1980), but it means nothing it you can’t create a tension-filled atmosphere surrounding the incident. The mood is lost, feeling more like a stage performance with direction to the extent of “You stand here” and “Say this line here”, etc, etc. I also like the ‘idea’ of the ghosts more than the actual outcome. The potential is there is every aspect; and while it isn’t as good as I wanted it to be, it is still better than your average run-of-the-mill horror movie and worth the viewing. Hopefully this has been a good learning experience for green director Ted Geoghegan and his next film will have a more realized and actualized concept.
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