Old Haunts, New Fears
by Brody Rossiter
I’ve spent 31 days offering up horror movie recommendations of all different sub-genres, nationalities and levels of scariness. From the intense action of 30 Days of Night, to the creeping chills of Ju-on: The Grudge, to the comedic leanings of Housebound, there has hopefully been something for everyone and a hell of a lot of content for discerning horror fans to discover. Vampires, ghosts, werewolves, zombies, and serial killers have all reared their ugly heads, and I lost track of the body count after the first week. I’ve toured abandoned asylums and alternate dimensions, and left with an abundance of new phobias in tow.
The horror genre is vast, overflowing with uniqueness and plagued by inconsistencies, but ultimately, when the lights are turned down low and you’re fearfully anticipating what terrors await, that experience is distinctly personal to you. The words of critics and the whispering of friends may offer a solid set of directions, but you must walk these unknown roads alone – and that is something quite special.
So here it is, the big one, the final recommendation and movie with which you should spend the spookiest night of the year. Though 31 Days of Fear will be gone tomorrow, We Are Still Here will long live on in the darkest recesses of your mind… and possibly your basement.
Still mourning the sudden death of their son, Anne (“Scream Queen” Barbara Crampton: Re-Animator, You’re Next) and Paul Sacchetti (Andrew Sensenig) retreat from the city to a new country home in the snowy New England Hamlet of Ayelsbury. Despite their new home’s cosy and quaint appearance, something deadly still lurks in the basement, something which has remained for decades and isn’t fond of new arrivals.
Anne attributes a series strange happenings that occur inside the house to her son, Bobby, believing that the student still has unfinished family business. She invites New Age couple May and Jacob to celebrate the move and uncover the truth behind the ghostly activity. Quickly the pair of seasoned psychics realise that Bobby left for good the day of his deadly bike accident, and what lingers below is shrouded in death and despair and hungering for new blood.
We Are Still Here is essentially three, classically influenced horror movies in one: a chilling haunted house ghost story, a fearsome tale possession and a gory exploitation fest. In the same severed vein as The House of The Devil (producer credits are shared between the two films) We Are Still Here perfectly captures a late 70s/early 80s vibe thanks to evocative set and costume design. The unsettling locale dominated by empty inhospitable expanses and claustrophobic premises populated by hostile locals constantly hints at the secrets suppressed deep beneath the Anne and Paul’s new home. Sequences wildly flail between downright unsettling to stomach churning with great aplomb, offering a highly rewarding and eventful 80 minutes.
Ted Geoghegan’s directorial debut is one of great contrasts, simultaneously providing contemporary twists while also scrawling a love letter to cult favourites all over the walls of the besieged home. The re-emergence of the vengeful Dagmar family and the uncovering of their fiery tale provides perhaps the most satisfying and bloodthirsty horror film of the year and an essential addition to your All Hallows’ Eve.