by Patrick Bromley
2014 was such a good year for independent horror films that there's almost no way 2015 could compete. There are have certainly been a few good ones so far: Adam Green's Digging Up the Marrow is fun and I suspect both Spring and especially It Follows are going to be all-timers. But the great ones have been fewer and further between. Now Ted Geoghegan's We Are Still Here seeks to be the next on that list of great indie horror, and damn if it doesn't come close.
The great Barbara Crampton and Andrew Sensenig play Anne and Paul, a married couple who move into a new house while reeling from the loss of their college-age son in an auto accident. After a few strange occurrences and noises that Anne believes must be her son communicating with them, she enlists the help of their more "spiritual" (read: hippie) friends May (Lisa Marie) and Jacob (Larry Fessenden) to make contact. What they instead discover is that there are spirits in the house that aren't their son, and the spirits aren't happy. They hold a grudge against the town that goes back 100 years, and they're looking to settle the score.
And when the bad things come, boy do they come -- the last half hour of the movie is one of those sequences that's going to be talked about by horror fans for years to come. I've heard We Are Still Here compared to the work of Lucio Fulci, and it's easy to understand why. Not only is Geoghegan working with Fulci's favorite theme of "something evil awakening under the house," but he creates mounting dread and knows to cut loose and go totally bonkers at the climax. Though it's never as abstract or exploitative as a Fulci film, there's certainly a good deal of his DNA in the movie. I mean this as a compliment.
The stuff that works really, really works, and I have a strong suspicion that We Are Still Here is going to grow on me as the year goes on. As much as it wants to be a meditation on loss and grief, I love that Geoghegan can't help himself from making a movie about pissed off ghosts looking for revenge. Many contemporary horror films are posing as sensationalistic in order to express deeper ideas about the world; We Are Still Here is sort of the opposite in that it seems on the surface to be something morose and metaphoric but is really just a nasty, balls-out haunted house movie. As someone who has a tendency to lose patience with the creaky floorboards and slamming doors of most haunted house movies, I'm thrilled to see one that really puts its ghost money where its ghost mouth is.
Starry Eyes when I first reviewed it and now that's become one of my favorite horror movies of the last 10 years. So it's no faint praise when I say that I'm incredibly excited to see We Are Still Here again. It's only been 48 hours since I saw it but there are moments and images that are stuck in my brain, particularly from those last 30 minutes. Say what you will about the movie -- after all, very few worthwhile films are for everyone -- but it's hard to argue with how spectacular that finale is. It's a showstopper.