We Are Still Here
we are still here | ted geoghegan | andrew sensenig | barbara crampton | larry fessenden | ghost | ghosts | haunted | haunted house | demon | demons | lovecraftian | mystery | united states | lisa marie | monte markham | susan gibney | elissa dowling | guy gane
Film: We Are Still Here
Director: Ted Geoghegan
Writer: Ted Geoghegan
Starring: Andrew Sensenig, Barbara Crampton and Larry Fessenden
This was a movie that I actually never heard of until I got into listening to podcasts. It came out during a time where I wasn’t necessarily watching new horror movies for the most part. It has appeared a few times on podcasts that I listen to, so I added it to a list of movies to check out at some point. I decided to give it a go when Jake and I were looking for a movie for our podcast, Side Quest, and it paired fairly well with a movie we watched prior. The synopsis is in the cold, wintery fields of New England, a lonely old house wakes up every thirty years – and demands a sacrifice.
We start this off getting the images of fields that are covered in snow. This is reminiscent for me as it looks just like I grew up in the Midwest. As the synopsis states though, we’re in the New England area and not too far from Boston. We shift over to a car where we have Paul Sacchetti (Andrew Sensenig) and his wife of Anne (Barbara Crampton). The acting here sets the tone for the rest of the movie for me. I picked up immediately that there is something wrong between them. Anne seems distant and Paul is doing what he can to connect back with her.
They’ve recently lost their son Bobby in a car accident. To try to get over it, they decided to move out of the city and bought this house in the rural community. Right after they move in, Anne starts to feel that there is a presence there. She believes it to be her son, while Paul isn’t buying into it. He’s more of a practical guy.
Both of our characters here noticed there is something off about the basement. Anne goes down there when she hears noises. The signs she is seeing she thinks are pointing to her son. We see that there is something down there. The basement smells of smoke and is quite hot. This causes Paul to reach out to an electrician, Joe (Marvin Patterson), to see if there is something wrong with their old boiler. We get to see the attack on Paul, where the occupants of the house believe the more logical reasoning.
Things get a bit weird when Paul and Anne meet their first neighbor. They’ve been living there for 2 weeks and it is an elderly couple of Dave McCabe (Monte Markham) and his wife Cat (Connie Neer). They share the past of the house, which was built in 1859. Originally it was a mortuary and the house has been vacant for some time. Dave shares that the couple who lived there at the time, the Dagmars, were accused of doing some shady businesses and ran out of town. As this couple goes to leave, Dave states that it is good to have a family in the house where Cat slips a note stating ‘the house needs a family, GET OUT!’ The couple ignores this, but are quite creeped out.
Anne then convinces her husband to allow the couple of May Lewis (Lisa Marie) and her husband Jacob (Larry Fessenden) to come visit. They are in tune with the other side and she wants to see if she can communicate with their son. Paul is reluctant, but allows it. He believes if it will help her, then it could do good. The house as we see does have a presence in it, but it is much darker than we realize. As the family tries to communicate with what is there, it becomes a fight for survival.
That’s where I want to leave my recap for this movie. Now I've already gave a bit of background that I had the briefest idea of what this movie was about. I knew this was a take on the ghost story film and I tend to enjoy those movies. Plus, I knew of the cast and I’ve seen the name of the writer/director Ted Geoghegan.
What really works for this movie though is the acting and the emotion comes from it. As I said in my recap, I could tell that there was something wrong and that this couple is distanced currently. I wasn’t sure if there were martial issues or not, but we get introduce pretty early with the cold open that they had a son and I picked up he passed away. Crampton does so well at portraying this broken character who is trying to hold on to the past. On the other hand, I think that Sensenig does a great job at playing off of her as well. He is trying to be a rock for her and trying to get her to see sense without going over the top on it. They really do feel like a married couple for sure.
Things become interesting when Paul relents to allow the parents of their son’s friend come out. It is interesting to hear Harry (Michael Patrick Nicholson) state that he and Bobby were roommates' freshmen year. Regardless if they weren’t as close as Anne thought, she is friends with May. Paul questions her reaching out for them to stay and I thought it was an interesting way to introduce that she is in tune with the other side. Paul doesn’t necessarily believe it. He thinks that she and Jacob are just hippies, but he’s a good husband and if Anne thinks it will help her, he’s willing to try. Marie and Fessenden are great as well so that helps.
This movie though doesn’t really waste any time and I can get behind that. I thought it was a bit of a plot convenience to have Dave and Cat show up like they do early in the movie, but as the movie progresses, I can see why. They are needed to plant some seeds of doubt. It is mostly for us in my opinion though. I’m more forgiving for information that we get later in the film though. There is a meeting that happens as the climax starts that feels like another one of these, but it goes deeper with information and pushes it into a Lovecraftian type of vibe. I know not everyone will like hearing this, but I dug it.
Before moving away from the story, I was feeling it was missing a bit at the end, but the start of the credits is giving us old newspapers. We learn in the movie that something seems to happen here every 30 years or so, but I love seeing the headlines to fill in the things that happened. Seeing that legitimately bumped the score up a full point for me. I’m a sucker for research and that satisfied an urge for me. I do question why this wasn’t in the beginning of the movie though. I guess it wasn’t as it could effect what we’re thinking too early, but the movie really doesn’t waste any time either. It doesn’t hurt having them at the end, I do think it is better served in the start though.
If I do have an issue here, it is the aspects of Bobby. I like that Anne thinks that her son is haunting the house. This does help build the tension for the fact that as a viewer, we are questioning if it is him or not. My problem though is that Bobby has never been to this house. Why would she assume that his spirit would be there? There is a moment in the opening sequence where she wanted to know how the movers would know where to put their things. They wouldn’t since this couple has never been there. There is also something at the end that I hated as well. It just feels like something they slide in for emotional impact. That didn’t work for me in that way or really needed.
I’ve already delved into the acting of the two stars along with the two characters that end up coming in support. I just briefly wanted to cover the others. Really the main one to talk about is Markham. Dave seems like a nice guy, but we soon see that he’s not. I do think that the movie goes a little bit far though with making him be a bit too much of a twirling the mustache kind of villain for my liking. I do think that Gibney is solid. She really has a small role that doesn’t come in until late in the movie. Neer does well at someone trying to do the right thing. It is ironic her character name is Cat when she is mousey. The rest of the townspeople are fine. I also thought that Guy Gane, Elissa Dowling and Zorah Burress do well in being the Dagmar family. They are entities, but how they play it are good.
Speaking of the Dagmars, the effects in the movie are really good. The entities are burnt, which explains why it is so hot in the basement. I’m assuming there is a combination of CGI and practical effects to go into their looks. Whatever it was, I was on board. They looked scary, especially with their eyes as white as they are. Much of the movie is them standing in the background and watching over those in the house. That was effective for me, but I know it won’t be for everyone. There is some really good practical gore as the movie goes on that really impressed me. I wasn’t expecting it to go that route and what they did worked.
Now with that said, this movie was one I had been putting off for no reason in particular, but I’m glad I finally saw it. The concepts that are introduced as this goes on and I think this is actually a good haunted house movie. The Lovecraftian elements work for me. The acting is good across the board and the effects were as well. There are a few minor issues that I had. The soundtrack didn’t stand out, but it did fit for what was needed. To rate this movie, I’d say that it is a good movie for sure and one of the better modern haunted house films I’ve seen.
My Rating: 8 out of 10