Thursday, June 18, 2015

[Review] We Are Still Here

We Are Still Here (not to be confused with another stunning horror film called We Are What We Are) might be the best scare-fest of the year that you haven't heard of.

Set in the dead of winter, a middle-aged couple moves away from the city and out to a rural house. It's one of those houses in the middle of nowhere that simply just looks haunted. The home has a disturbing history, and it's acting up with things that go beyond simple mechanical repairs. This may sound like well-trodden territory, but in the horror genre, a lot of the territory is well-trodden; it just depends on how well the territory is used, and We Are Still Here does with it terrifying grace.

The camera immediately gives off the impression that someone (or something) is watching. There's a slight shake to it, and it peaks around corners, through staircase pillars, and slightly above the characters. The film is a bit grainy, giving the display an old-fashioned look. The scenes are mostly filled with deafening silence, but sometimes a few notes of uneasy music up the ante.

It's a slow burn that thrives on subtleties, but there's always an eerie edge to it. And when things turn up, they really turn up. Horrifying, shadowy ash figures emerge and some gruesome camp creeps out, but it still feels like it belongs and it makes for an interesting contrast within. The serious tension also breaks when a cooky family friend is invited over to see what the hell is going on. "Nice place ya' picked," he says, sarcastically. The film gains an absurd sense of humor about itself, and the story has a solid mystery to keep the intrigue going, which elevates this above the typically straightforward surface scares of a lot of other bigger films of the type, and sets things up for a more satisfying but still outrageous climax (and a great final line).

We Are Still Here has the indie/arthouse chops, throwback vibes, and mainstream jolt scares in one place. So, horror fans of all kinds should dig deep for this one (it's on VOD).


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