The horror movie We Are Still Here is a little bit of a throwback to another era. It has the look and feels of a film from the Nineteen Seventies. For those not familiar with the type of film it is trying to be may find it a little odd. It has none of the standard tropes of contemporary horror such a shaky cameras and the quiet, quiet, bang mode of making people jump. Instead it relies on mood and tension to engage the audience.
In search of a new start, Paul (Andrew Sensenig) and Annie (Barbara Crampton) head to Aylesbury, a small town in New England. They have moved from the city after the death of their son in a car accident. As soon as they arrive they really start to feel uneasy. Almost as if there is a presence in the house. The town is no better with a collection of odd and creepy locals. The couple invite their friends up for the weekend for some reassuring company. The friends are also mediums. Paul and Anne are looking for answers for the oppressive atmosphere. Things start to go awry when they venture into the basement to try to locate the smell of smoke that seems to be all over the house.
To be honest this is not the greatest horror film ever. With the stylistic choice of setting the film in the Seventies, the film makers were obviously hoping to create a somber mood using an overwhelmingly brown and grey colour palate. What it lacks is a good enough story to match the visuals. There is nothing new here and the main characters are all very familiar types. We have the skeptic in the form of Paul. Him stating “convince me” in relation to spirits is a clumsy way to introduce supernatural elements. The same can apply to the back story. Locals giving the couple strange glances is something we have seen so many times before and it doesn’t enliven the haunted house aspect of the film.
The main performances are both decent. They are both asked to keep the story going while maintaining an air of innocence regarding the unsettling phenomena. It works well as they and the audience find out what is happening at the same time. It isn’t until late on in the film that we begin to find out the mystery behind everything.
The film boasts some interesting special effects. For spoiler reasons I won’t go into details but they are effective, gory and in fitting with the style of the film. The film has a low budget feel to it as it is shot in only a few locations and there are a lot of practical effects used. The little CGI that is employed is used effectively to enhance the functional elements.
I felt that the pacing of the movie was an issue. It took a long time to get going and it was only in the final third that there was any real actin. Of course, this was done to ramp up the tension but with a run time of less than ninety minutes the climax felt rushed. Changing it so the ending was more of a slow build would have helped the film to be more memorable.
Overall, a reasonable small horror film that reminds you of old school horror movies from the Seventies.