Wednesday, October 7, 2015

We Are Still Here: A Ghost Story with Gore to Burn


Director: Ted Geoghegan

Cast: Barbara Crampton, Andrew Sensenig, Lisa Marie, Larry Fessenden, Monte Markham

Dark Sky Films / Region A / Unrated / 2.35:1 widescreen / Dolby Digital 5.1 / 83 minutes

Extras: Director and Producer Commentary / Behind the Scenes / Trailers


I am not usually a fan of ghost stories, spooks, spirits or tales of the supernatural in general. There are a few exceptions, like one of my all-time favorite movies, Poltergeist. They usually rely on creaking doors,  footsteps, moving objects and other hokey gimmicks to supply the scares, which really don't get my blood pumping. But what if you took that idea and added the style and attitude of Euro-horror from the '70s and '80s like Lucio Fulci and Lamberto Bava? An homage of sorts, with nods and winks, but that only fans of that era would notice (two letters; J&B)? And, to top off that sweet, sweet cake, you add one of the most beautiful and iconic women of horror, Barbara Crampton? Well, if that doesn't pique your interest, you may as well stop reading and go check your pulse and your horror cred at the door.

Paul and Anne have just lost their son and have decided to move to a new place for a change of scenery and a fresh start. Shortly after arriving, the neighbors drop by with a happy little story about how the old owners were run out of town for stealing dead bodies, selling them (?) and burying the empty caskets. After taking in the weird, ominous story from their new friends, they begin to notice noises and occurrences around the house and immediately Anne believes it to be their dead son trying to communicate. So they call in their friend and psychic medium May along with her hubby Jacob to help them out. But after taking a trip into town for dinner, the four begin to realize that something isn't right with the townspeople, especially their neighbor Dave who is bent on them staying in the house. But why? And is the spirit their son or something much more angry and violent?

I think you know the answer to that. "Angry and violent" doesn't even begin to describe the spirits that dwell in the "Dagmar House". They have a back story that I won't spoil (even though it's not a big selling point here), but these creatures are charred demons from the pit of Hell. They rip and tear people to shreds resulting in geysers of bloody mayhem. The first hour of this tight, tense horror show skillfully sets up the last ultra-violent act with its setting, acting and story that harkens back to the glory days of gory, supernatural Euro-horror. Barbara Crampton was phenomenal as the grieving, hopeful mother. I am used to seeing her as the steamy sexpot in movies like Re-Animator and From Beyond which I obviously enjoy, but seeing her in a film where her acting chops are the focal point was refreshing and enlightening. There was a performance that hammed it up and one that was pretty stiff and unconvincing, but overall I was very impressed.

The eye behind the camera that brought all of the style to this brouhaha was none other than the director of the amazing, brutal and beautiful Subconscious Cruelty, Karim Hussain. Hussain has also lensed Hobo with a Shotgun, Jovanka Vuckovic's gorgeous short film "The Captured Bird" and Brandon Cronenberg's Antiviral. First time writer/director Ted Geoghegan has also written gore-fests like Andreas Schnaas' Nikos the Impaler and Barricade from Timo Rose. The amazing special and gore effects are done by none other than my hometown boy Marcus Koch and his team of sickos. Yes, We Are Still Here has a horror pedigree from the word go and it shows in the movie's execution and style. I don't watch much new horror because to be honest, I've given up on it after seeing so much shit. But current stuff like The Babadook and now We Are Still Here has given me new hope for the future of horror.

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