After the neon punch of last week’s GLOW documentary and our vow to honour the GLOTBC (The Gorgeous Ladies of the Blog Collab), this choice might seem a little tenuous in its connection. But wait!
It happens to star the very lovely Barbara Crampton, whose horror CV reads like a damn dream. She’s also the mother in You’re Next, a great film I recently revisited. So we’re still on track and I’m sorry if that’s not enough for you. As Jill said when I suggested this film, “It’s our blog collab, so if we say it fits, it fits!”. So… it fits.
Special shout out to my friend Daisy who Facebooked me to ask if I’d seen this, thus inspiring me to pick it. (Turns out I had seen it before but forgotten).
We Are Still Here (2015)
In the cold, wintery fields of New England, a lonely old house wakes up every thirty years – and demands a sacrifice.
Can someone cut Anna and Paul Sacchetti (Andrew Sensenig) a fucking break?
Having recently lost their son Bobby in a car accident, the couple move to snowy New England to heal their wounds and, if possible, learn to move on. Unfortunately, they choose to buy the creepiest house in the state, which they pick up for steal (red flag, anyone?) and soon Anna begins to sense they aren’t alone there.
Paul, who I actually love, is not so convinced and at times finds it hard to deal with his wife’s grief and deep depression. He can be dismissive which is difficult to watch but I understand it. The poor guy’s in mourning too. I just want them to make it tbh which might be jumping the gun this early on in the film but fuck it.
So there they are, trying to settle in while things go bump in the night (and day). These small (to begin with) things could be explained away I guess, which is why nobody seems that bothered yet. And Anna, of course, finds the presence of her son comforting.
That is until Dave, a well-meaning community member (nope) and his wife Cat stop by one evening. Dave delights in unveiling the true history of the house, while Cat looks so distraught I’d have been packing a bag before she’d even finished her first sentence. (Not that Dave allows her to say much).
In short, the house was a funeral home built in the 1800s by the Dagmar family, who were run out of town when it was revealed that they were selling the corpses and burying empty caskets. As you do.
As their uninvited visitors leave, Cat passes Paul a note that says “This house needs a family. Get Out”.
Strangely, the couple stay put. Even when there’s a horrible accident in the basement concerning their electrician. Run Paul and Anna, RUN LIKE THE WIND! They do invite some friends to stay though, which Paul reluctantly agree to for Anna’s sake, though they aren’t his cup of tea.
May (the lovely Lisa Marie) and Jacob (Larry Fessenden) are hippies whose son, Harry (Michael Patrick Nicholson) was Bobby’s roommate. May is also something of a spiritual conduit and Anna has the idea that she can shed more light on the energy she’s been feeling in the house. Paul’s not keen on Jacob because he’s a stoner. LOL.
When the couple arrives, the four of them head into town for a bite to eat while they wait for Harry and his girlfriend (Kelsea Dakota) to get in. Things in the local bar/restaurant get weird as fuck as the community visibly loses its mind about the new residents. In particular, the bar owner who pumps the waitress for information about the couple now living in the Dagmar’s home.
While the adults enjoy an icy reception over chicken in a basket, Harry and Daniella arrive at the house and let themselves in, where they proceed to make out as all young people do. This does not bode well for the lovers unfortunately, and the horror house does what horror houses do best.
Later, we learn a bit more folklore about the house (the whole 30 year cycle set up) and exactly what that kind of sacrifice entails but I’m not giving it all away. No sir. Needless to say it’s crazy shit.
Back at the house, May and Jacob are unaware of the fate of their son. They all experience spooky things in the middle of the night and when they reconvene at the breakfast table, May tells Anna that there is a presence in the house and that it wants her to think it’s Bobby.
The women go out and Jacob instigates a seance against May’s strict instructions. As with most of the decisions made so far in this movie, this is not heading for a fluffy outcome. The men make contact with the antagonist Dagmar himself but is he really that bad of a guy – and is there more to his story?
Cat would certainly have Anna and Paul believe so but does her final warning come too late? I shall park this here because it gets right good here.
Will our middle aged protagonists make it through the day/night when the whole town turns on them? And who should they really fear anyway? The smokey burning people in the cellar or The Neighbourhood Fucking Watch?
This film is really good looking. It’s also well acted and paced in a way I enjoy. There are scares but they’re slower burners (pun intended) rather than Paranormal Activity jumps. It’s seriously creepy is what I mean and also empathic to the subject of grief and depression.
There’s a stunning scene in the cellar when Anna experiences what she perceives as a moment with her late son, and it’s a heartbreaker.
Both Anna and Paul are amazing I think and I really bought them as a grieving couple who love each other despite all the sadness surrounding them. I also appreciate how they gel with Jacob and May.
I enjoy the gore too, when it kicks off it gets very bloody. Effect wise it’s not bad. This film probably isn’t for everyone but I totally dig its themes and general aesthetic.