Sydney Film Festival: We Are Still Here (2015)

Barbara Crampton in We Are Still Here (2015)Modern horror is increasingly looking to the past for inspiration. There’re clever, nostalgic takes like You’re Next and It Follows. You’ve also got your remakes: the latest being the widely-derided Poltergeist. We Are Still Here shoots for the former category, but ends up missing the mark.

Ted Geoghegan’s emulation of ‘70s haunted house films – with some Wicker Man and melodrama mashed in for good measure – executes its scares well within a retro-aesthetic. But its lack of patience – and empathy for its characters, a married couple recovering from their adult son’s recent death – means those scares are, well, not scary. While We Are Still Here earns some laughs from its po-faced adoption of clichés, it fails to maintain interest in its threadbare narrative … at least until the impressively gory final act.

The balance between ridiculous and suspenseful is never successfully established, leaving the film to seesaw back and forth between two largely incompatible poles. Barbara Crampton could perhaps have provide a centre to anchor the film, but she looks dazed, as though she woke up decades after agreeing to nuding up for Re-Animator and wondered how she was still acting in horror films. Yes, Barbara, I’m afraid you’re still here.

2 stars

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