WE ARE STILL HERE Review
Director: Ted Geoghegan
Genre: Horror, Haunted House
Ted Geoghegan has unleashed an old-school haunted house film, using his indie filmmaker instincts to trademark this project with a low-budget edge in an attempt to prioritize tension building over all. Unfortunately, WE ARE STILL HERE elicits nothing but a faint sigh instead of any genuine screams. Heavily expository, oddly tedious, and regularly killing all tension with disappointingly weak visuals, Geoghegan’s film plays out like a tired retread of genre conventions, thoroughly convinced that it’s reinventing the form, only to result in a film who’s best quality is its poster.
It ought to be noted that WE ARE STILL HERE still stands out from its peer this year, INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3 and SINISTER 2. Visually, it’s brighter and rides off of a certain camp factor that the other two don’t possess, and is visibly less polished from a production standpoint. But what’s interesting to note is that where INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3 was consistently disappointing, WE ARE STILL HERE is good for the first half of its first act, only to quickly become terrible. If combined, they’d have probably even made a good film.
Honestly, we should have just taped our eyes shut as well
Geoghegan obviously has a knack for tension building, and his film does a decent job at doing so for as long as there are no real confrontations with the spirits. Shadows in the background and clever lighting cues elicit genuine fear and successfully build suspense, especially during the first twenty minutes, but the film rapidly heads downhill after that.
Starring a sub-par version of the killer from TOO MANY COOKS
The dialogue carries no dramatic weight, the stakes are ridiculously low despite the obvious conundrum of house-ghosts-will-kill-you, and most jarringly, two sequences involving side characters driving up to the aforementioned house are pathetically expository, informing viewers of absolutely nothing that hasn’t already been relayed by the two protagonists. Naturally, some might claim that writing is secondary to good scares in horror films, but WE ARE STILL HERE simply doesn’t construct a compelling narrative that allows for viewers to care. Other than the fact that the protagonists are a cute elderly couple, there’s no real reason to root for them on a deeper level.
Music is a complete mess in WE ARE STILL HERE. In an obvious attempt to relocate its more urban-centric protagonists to a more rural area, Geoghegan completely misses the mark by filling all of the radio stations and bars with ill-fitting ambient hipster music.
They gave the new Tame Impala 5/5
This terrible juxtaposition of setting and sound eliminates any sense of verité. The side characters that travel to visit the mourning protagonists all behave as if they’re on the road to meet some young bachelors, completely content with taking the risks of getting caught having sex and exploring creepy basements, all of their dumb behavior underscored by the misguided diagetic soundtrack.
In addition, the film doesn’t manage to follow its own supernatural rules of engagement. Whether or not the ghosts can exit the house is a mystery until the very end, since the lore seems to express that the spirits feed from within the home, yet there is one notable death that occurs on the highway leading away from the house. The film’s climax is chock-full of loosely strung together edits and sloppy visual effects. There are a handful of entertaining uses of practical gore, but they don’t hold up since the majority of deaths are severely underwhelming. The spirits have the ability to burn their victims by touching them, a correlation that is later explained in a clear homage to NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, but this ability is so boring that it makes for disappointingly dull entertainment.
Trust us, it looks much worse in motion
Regardless whether a viewer finds the spirits to be scary or juvenile, the sound work that complements their appearances is uninspired and obnoxious. Furthermore, the visual edits that allow the spirits to quickly move across the screen is excessively campy, something that could be a welcome addition if it wouldn’t be for the fact that the majority of the film is played off with a straight face. This directorial indecisiveness ultimately makes for a project that’s lacking in vision, which doubles as its biggest pitfall.
When he’s not directing, he’s on tour with Limp Bizkit
WE ARE STILL HERE is the type of project that believes its a lot better than it truly is, and due to the cult nature of horror filmgoers, it has been elevated to a pedestal that it doesn’t deserve in the slightest. Shaky writing and a pedestrian visual execution ultimately derail a narrative that initially begins with a strong first act. Unfortunately for its unconvincing charred-spirit designs, the entire experience is rendered a goofy mess, and since the plot doesn’t allow itself to develop at a steady pace that allows for clear act breaks, pathetic segments of heavy exposition dull down the third act into a muddled mess that results in an incoherent conclusion.
Verdict: Do Not Recommend