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Haunted Sideshow

Dustin Putman

We Are Still Here  (2015)

Reviewed for by Dustin Putman

The Film
2.5 Stars
(Release Date: October 6, 2015) – Anne (Barbara Crampton) and Paul Sacchetti (Andrew Sensenig) have experienced a loss no parent should have to go through. Two months ago, their grown son was killed in a car crash, and only now have they begun to remotely pick up the pieces. Hoping that a change of scenery will do them good, they move from the city to the tiny rural community of Aylesbury. They are partially aware of their home's storied, century-plus past—it was built in the mid-1800s, and was once used as a funeral parlor—but do not think much of it. When Anne almost immediately senses a supernatural presence, she is convinced their late son has followed them to their new dwelling. As the grieving couple will soon realize, however, entities of much more malevolent intent are lying in wait, ready to latch themselves to anyone who steps foot through the door.

"We Are Still Here" revolves around a core mystery that neither leads to the huge "ah-ha!" moment one expects nor delivers the full dramatic catharsis one hopes. It is to writer-director Ted Geoghegan's credit, then, that the film still conjures an unsettling medley within its cauldron. Geoghegan and cinematographer Karim Hussain are clearly lovers of tone and observation, as interested in establishing a setting and their milieu's encroaching threats as they are in their characters. Indeed, atmosphere seeps from the picture's every pore, the frosty, snowswept landscape standing in contrast to the supernatural inferno lurking indoors. Lonesome images of unoccupied rooms, of barren tree branches hanging like spindly tentacles, of gusts of wind rustling up tunnels of snow, and of shadowy, overheated cellars where evil lurks are just a few of the evocative visuals responsible for creating the movie's vivid, eerie aura.

Better at suggesting rather than delivering, "We Are Still Here" is creepiest during its anticipatory phase, before the spectral villains have been revealed in full. Barbara Crampton (2013's "You're Next") and Andrew Sensenig (2013's "Upstream Color") give Anne and Paul the full weight of their sorrow as a middle-aged couple dealing with grave loss who inadvertently find themselves in harm's way. Once the supporting players are introduced—visiting friends May (Lisa Marie) and Jacob (Larry Fessenden), their son Harry (Michael Patrick) and his girlfriend Maddie (Susan Gibney)—the supernatural forces manifest in increasingly violent ways. Touches of paranoia and a long-buried secret lingering throughout the town follow, but the gory third act gets in the way of locating the pathos inherent in Anne and Paul's personal plight. "We Are Still Here" lacks restraint, sometimes to its detriment, but the film has nevertheless been mounted with a meticulous, mood-drenched sensibility. It is an old-school throwback with a classy, savage edge.

Read Dustin's Theatrical Review

Blu-ray Picture/Sound

"We Are Still Here" scorches Blu-ray with an affectingly shivery 1080p transfer, lushly framed at its anamorphic 2:35:1 aspect ratio. Cinematographer Karim Hussain's color palette is earthy and realistic, the muted tones nonetheless gorgeously handled in this high-def presentation. Not every shot is as sharp as the last, but the detail and clarity are accurate to source and carry with them an attractive layer of grain that looks more like film than digital (for the record, it was shot with the Red Dragon Epic camera). Bursts of red and other primaries land with their rightful impact, while black levels make chilling use of background shadows. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio elicits goosebumps with a subtle, edgy sound design, sudden footsteps, shuffles, knocks and bumps in the dark joltingly sneaking up from the back channels. Music is handsomely incorporated in the mix, while dialogue is uniformly clear.

Blu-ray Features
  • Audio Commentary with writer-director Ted Geoghegan and producer Travis Stevens
  • Behind the Scenes Featurette (7:04, HD)
  • Theatrical Trailer (1:35, HD)
  • Teaser Trailer (1:39, HD)
Bottom Line
Dark Sky Films' Blu-ray release of "We Are Still Here" will be a welcome addition to any supernatural film buff's high-def library. While the script doesn't live up or add up to as much as one anticipates, the purveying mood and attention to character beats remind of a horror title made in the 1970s. Director Ted Geoghegan proves mightily adept at selling his scares and relying on the sheer apprehension of what is to come. With confident A/V specs and an enjoyable audio commentary served up among the bonus features, "We Are Still Here" comes recommended on Blu-ray.

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© 2015 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman

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