We Are Still Here movie full length review - We Are Still Here
"We Are Still Here" seems to be one of those films that has divided horror fans, but I personally liked it a lot.
Yes, it takes the slow-build, "gradual development to a huge eruption of violence" approach, but once it gets there, the blood flows. A grieving couple (Barbara Crampton and Andrew Sensenig) move out of the city to a small town winter cabin hoping to recover from the loss of their son, instead encountering this dangerous darkness that threatens to devour their very souls. Anne (Crampton) calls up their kooky hippie friends (Lisa Marie and Larry Fessenden), inviting them to stay at the cabin, not realizing that doing so threatens their lives as well. A new neighbor, Dave (Monte Markham), stops by their house to say welcome, but he informs them of a family called the Dagmars who left a nasty stain because they ran a scam regarding selling bodies they were supposed to be burying! This seems to be one of those old wives' tales, but the Dagmar family *is* involved in those strange noises in the basement, and they make appearances for a reason. The very town itself has a reason for the new couple to be (and stay) at the old house, gone unoccupied for over 30 years.
It starts as you might expect: her heart wounded by loss, and unable it seems to recover, Crampton hears and feels (she believes) her son, Bobby. Supposedly, her attachment to Bobby, and the memories that live so fresh in her heart and mind have traveled to the new location. This location lives on top of something dark and sinister, perhaps conjured by the nearby town many moons ago. The current residents of the town must "keep the darkness satiated and satisfied" with human sacrifice, so the Sacchettis, Anne and Paul (Sensenig), are the next to be "fed to it". Previous occupants, the Dagmar family, are the scourge on the lips of those who live in the town and surrounding area, purposely used as vile folklore when, in actuality, they were victims looking for revenge themselves.
Charcoal black, eyes white, with flesh as burnt ash, the family of "burning ghouls" are quite a marvelously creepy sight. I totally dug their look, for sure. Fessenden's possession after unwisely conducting a séance with Sensenig is perhaps a bit too cheesy, though. He gobbles up a pair of socks, for heaven's sake, and stabs a fireplace poker in his eye! That was a creepy voice speaking through him, though.
Marie, a Tim Burton vet, is fun as the supposed "clairvoyant" who can sense something off at the Sacchetti home. The aura of the place, as mentioned by Marie, is dark indeed. Crampton might be criticized for her performance. I can just imagine the many reviews dictating her as providing a "non-performance" but I got what she was going for. Losing a son, her mother is emotionally lost and disconnected with life?Sensenig tries to be her rock. Sensenig is more or less the guarded husband and skeptic, an ear of sympathy who tries to motivate his beloved to keep her wits about her. The mentioning of Bobby all the time, you can tell Sensenig's Paul is frustrated but understanding of Anne's heartbreak.
The ending, which isn't a surprise (the parents finally get their wish), is essentially the happy result of a horrible event where the nasty side of the town emerges while a family scorned embark on their own killing spree. Markham appears to be just your garden variety square elderly neighbor but that dark side sure reveals itself?he packs a mean shotgun. The way some of the locals go at the end can be a bit silly (like one victim, your basic hick hunter type, kind of "burns into" the stairs), but knives to a throat and a crushed face sure make up for it in the gory thrills department. The burning sound of the ghouls when they grab human victims sounds real eerie.
"We Are Still Here" is kind of a hybrid film. It conquers the "old dark house", "darkness rises out of ritual conjuring by ancestors from long ago", "town with a dark secret", and "human sacrifice needed to 'make the evil go away'" themes. This has been described as dull and cliché, so "We Are Still Here" may not be to your liking. If you don't like any of the themes I mentioned, perhaps you might want to stay away. I like *all* those themes so this worked for me. Although the part isn't flashy, it is nice seeing Crampton working in horror again.