Octoblur: If the quality doesn't scare you the quantity will.
We Are Still Here sets the perfect tone early on with fantastic shots of an unforgiving winter landscape accompanied by a spartan but evocative sound design. We Are Still Here ends with a gory, provocative finale featuring riveting spirits and a fresh twist on the classic haunted house tale. But We Are Still Here is practically ruined by amateurish directing that brings awkward performances out of a cast that should be capable of better.
The set-up of We Are Still Here is familiar: a couple (Barbara Crampton and Andrew Sensenig) still grieving the death of their adult son move into an old house on the edge of a small town, unaware of the property's troubled history. Soon enough, odd things begin to happen, convincing the wife that the spirit of their dead child is reaching out to them — or is it something altogether less benevolent?
We Are Still Here has ideas, which gives it a leg-up on most films of its genre, and if it had been produced more capably, it may have been that rare horror movie that also packs a substantial emotional punch. However, in director Ted Geoghegan's hands, it's a series of poorly shot scenes that fumble the potentially powerful plot with scene-after-scene of awful dialog delivered badly. Crampton is a favorite of mine from her two 1980s classics Re-Animator and From Beyond, so I'm not going to fault her for playing too broad with a weak script to a camera shoved too close to her face. I'm inclined, then, to cut the other actors slack, as the performances are consistently overplayed and shot in a way that doesn't flatter that style. Only Monte Markham, as a local who knows more about the house than he initially lets on, comes out of We Are Still Here with an unimpeachable achievement, but his part is also the only one clearly written and given consistently strong material.
The makeup effects in We Are Still Here are excellent — from the creepy look of the ghosts to the splattering Fulci-inspired gore — and, even though there are other memorable aspects from time-to-time, that's the only part of the movie that doesn't feel like it could have been vastly improved. With a more natural style of acting and patient manner of shot construction, and a few more passes at the screenplay, We Are Still Here could have been a masterpiece. But it isn't.
Also with Larry Fessenden — who may have done a better job directing We Are Still Here than acting in it — and Lisa Marie.
Stay tuned here and on twitter @Popgap to see what I choose to inflict upon myself this Octoblur!