The ghosts in the house may remain, but I checked out a long time ago.
“We Are Still Here,” directed by Ted Geoghegan, had the potential to be one of the most horrifying films of 2015, and to be entirely honest, I expected it to be. I’d like to make a note here, that given the source material, the team in charge of creating the promotional footage for this movie deserve a special mention as they managed to craft a more interesting and chilling work than the director did with the entirety of this movie. Trailers and critic accolades from film festivals made it seem like this was the ghost-based horror flick to finally surpass the seemingly endless supply of “Paranormal Activity” and “The Conjuring” want-to-be films that plague the horror genre, serving audiences what appeared to be a fresh take on the haunted house genre.
“We Are Still Here” however, is not that film. Set in the wintry and mysterious town of Aylesbury, this film depicts the life of a married couple, Anne and Paul Sacchetti, who are moving in to escape their own past and the loss of their son, Bobby, whom Anne believes is still with them. As time passes, and the winter weeks drag on, the couple begins to believe there is something in the house with them and it may not be the spirit of their lost son.
The film, when not showing the halls of the Sacchetti’s new home-sweet-home and the horrors that lurk in the corners of it, focuses on depicting the frigid-yet-welcoming environment of this town and the farmland surrounding it. In these wide, establishing shots, Geoghegan shows us a beautiful world, highlighting colors and contrast that audiences can take for granted. The tense and purposeful score by Wojchech Golczewski, which shines especially well in the film’s gripping introduction, only aids the starkness of the land surrounding the house.
Unfortunately, this is where the positives of this film end. Anne, portrayed by Barbara Crampton of “Days of Our Lives” fame (or infamy, depending on who you ask) is the typical grieving mother character we have come to know from film history. It seems she forgot which set she was on, however, as many of her lines come across as vapid and unconcerned. Paul, portrayed by Andrew Sensenig, is almost a copy-and-pasted skeptic character from any number of horror films to date. Together, their chemistry is almost believable, but their acting in many cases seems incredibly elementary, which is disappointing given the direction of Geoghegan.
The acting of Crampton and Sensenig isn’t the worst I’ve seen in a horror movie, but their counterparts, old family friends Jacob and May Lewis, portrayed by Larry Fessenden and Lisa Marie, are somehow even less convincing. The two play a retired earth child couple, gifted in sensing auras, and being one with Mother Earth, who believe they can help the Sacchetti family cleanse the area of hostility. Their performances are lackluster at best, with hard-to-believe characteristics and hippie tropes being thrown at the audience almost as often as the cheap attempts at scares that were planted throughout the duration of the film.
The most disappointing aspect of this film is not the acting, however, but the fact that it starts off so strong. The introduction is a tense scene, with engrossing camerawork and a palpable feeling of dread surrounding the characters of Anne and Paul, but that intensity is lost quickly as the story loses itself and the film seems to slide into B-movie territory, becoming a film anyone could accidentally happen across while searching through the wrong part of Netflix.
I had high hopes and while I cannot get back the 82 minutes that I spent watching it, I’d hope that you, the reader, could make an even better decision and not watch this poor attempt at a horror movie this Halloween.
Britton Rozzelle is a contributing writer for The Spectator.