Hello and Hallo-welcome to another edition of Shut-In Sunday, where horror doesn’t go far from home! You join your bloggers, Andy and Lilly, who think full disclosure should be well enforced in real estate agents, especially when houses are haunted.
Today’s film offering: We Are Still Here
Andy: Moving house is stressful. Especially when your wife is deeply depressed because your son’s been hit by a car and killed. What you probably need then is a house deep in rural New England. Of course, the real estate agent hasn’t let them know that owners of this particular house don’t tend to, y’know, ‘stay’ very long.
Lilly: Which I feel like is illegal, but you know. Our first sign of evil, that.
Andy: Directed by Ted Geoghegan, whose resume includes a lot of B-Movie writer and producer credits – this is the first time we’ve come across him – this film does have a bit of geek cred in casting Barbara Frampton of ReAnimator fame, as well as a visual aesthetic inspired by the Italian horror legend Lucio Fulci.
The result is a film which is visually one of the most stunning haunted house movies we’ve seen in a good long while. The whole thing is stylishly shot, extremely creepy, but also really, brutally violent. These ghosts aren’t the kind of passive ‘point-at-where-the-bad-thing-happened’ ghosts. These spirits are pissed.
Lilly: I’ve never seen such a good use of angles as I did in this film. Every shot was lined up artfully to an effect, which is long, tiresome work and careful consideration on the part of the director, and I’m really impressed. It made the whole film feel tense, like something was about to happen, so that, by the time something did, your nerves were shot anyway.
I was also really creeped out by the design of the ghosts in this film. You get glimpses in the trailer, but these ghosts are made of ash and fire, and for some reason, that makes them come across as far more sinister than your average haunting. When you start to learn the background of the house, it gets all the spookier, and you are left feeling on edge because you are hit with the fact that these ghosts, as Andy mentioned, are supernaturally pissed.
Andy: Not to mention that the locals are either completely unfriendly or a little too friendly, and you have a recipe for being creeped right out of your seat.
Lilly: Then there are their weird friends who are invited over to try and help sort this out. It’s sort of tragic to learn that the are recent friends made after the death of the couple’s son, but then, when better than to befriend those who believe they can contact those who had passed? You get an excellent reasoning for the couple staying in the house with the mother’s desperate hopes that one of the ghosts might be her child, or might know how to get in touch with him, and as it all comes to a head, you are stuck hoping with her, that it will all be worth it in the end.
Sometimes, when watching a horror film, you can see what is coming, you can figure out the rhythm of the film, can find some comfort, but this film did not have that. I was pleasantly surprised, I was spooked, and there were times we both said “nope!” which is a rare one, since Andy can read a film and prepare himself more often than I can. This one caught us both off guard.
Andy: Pretty much. This film never really lets up – the creepy things happening may change, but there’s no moment where the sun comes up and you know you can relax for a few minutes. It’s not overly intense, but it is relentless in its dread.
Lilly: And, unlike some other films I’ve seen, it really works with the tragic background of the characters. There are lazy writers out there who would just have the son’s death be something you were told once and then it was used again once more near the end of the film, but this film is absolutely steeped in mourning, where the two stories of ghosts who haunt us metaphorically and physically are both given time to really get to the viewer.
Andy: We don’t really want to give too much more away on – the joy is in trying to parse out the plot yourself – but it is good, and we do recommend it.