SXSW Review: WE ARE STILL HERE
Disclosure: I'm friendly with some of the people involved in the production of this movie.
We Are Still Here is Fulci as fuck.
Many modern horror movies have attempted to capture the brightly surreal '70s inflection of our Italian masters, but have settled for replicating the look of the thing - the wide angles, the rich, saturated colors, the specifically styled hair and wardrobe. Ted Geoghegan's We Are Still Here gets all of that right while also feeling Fulci - strange, stilted, narratively disorienting and, increasingly, steeped with unshakable dread.
Andrew Sensenig and horror royalty Barbara Crampton play Paul and Anne Sacchetti, a couple dealing with the grief of losing their college-aged son in the past year. They move to a country house in a very small New England town, hoping to make new memories, but the presence of their son seems to follow them wherever they are - a feeling that becomes heightened when their neighbors (Monte Markham and Susan Gibney) warn the Sacchettis that the house "needs a family." They invite their New Age friends May and Jacob (Lisa Marie and Larry Fessenden) to investigate the escalating weirdness of their new home - and of the strangely unwelcoming town that surrounds it - and the four adults soon learn that there's something much darker and more stubborn than the Sacchettis' son inhabiting their house.
We Are Still Here is a deeply weird, unsettling movie, one that begins small and still and quiet and steadily climbs to a demented, blood-drenched frenzy. The movie is luxuriously filmed in vast, white frames of the snow-saturated New England countryside, making everything seem hushed and fixed before the house shakes free of its thirty-year shackles (for we're dealing with the best kind of curse here, a thirty-year curse) and starts wreaking frenzied havoc on its poor inhabitants. There's a mythology hinted at here, but it doesn't quite matter, as the dark history of the home is manifest even before we hear its biography.
And alongside the ancient mythology is the very present effect it has on its current residents. As Paul and Anne shuffle their way through their little routine - a trip to the store for groceries, a glass of J&B scotch on the couch at the end of the night - we feel for them long before the thing in the boiler presents its charred, white-eyed form. The title notwithstanding, these two are barely here, barely registering on the spectrum of normal human existence. They are faded and insubstantial in their grief, two will-o'-the-wisps ready to be blown away by the first sign of force.
The movie is intermittently sad and funny, and always inscrutable, and then the climax is just pure, unqualified carnage. It's 84 minutes of hypnagogia that wakes itself - and its audience - mid-massacre, when suddenly this strange, quiet film becomes a wall-shaking bloodbath featuring Barbara Crampton wielding a fistful of knives.