Friday, July 3, 2015

homes under the hammer.

Had this recommended to me as the 'surprise shocker of the year'.
Was a wee bit dubious after It Follows and The Babadook and was wary of being burned (well more like totally torched) again.
But my word was I in for a surprise.
And not just because I'd forgotten how hot Barbara Crampton looks when she's shot to fuck.

Crampton: Do you remember the first time?

So just a little review because:
A. I don't want to take the piss cos it's actually dead good.
B. I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it.
The Arena in reviews good film shocker?
Wonders will never cease.
We Are Still Here (2015).
Dir: Ted Geoghegan.
Cast: Barbara Crampton, Andrew Sensenig, Larry Fessenden, Lisa Marie, Marvin Patterson, Susan Gibney and Monte Markham.

"It's been 30 years since we had fresh souls in the Dagmar house..."

After their son Bobby is killed in a car accident, grieving parents Paul (the fantastic Sensenig, coming across like the love child of David Morse and Michael Moriarty) and Anne (Re-Animator cutey Crampton) have decided to start a new life buying a ramshackle old house on the outskirts of a small town in New England. 
I say outskirts but it's so remote it practically has it's own atmosphere - one of dread obviously - nestled as it is in a wonderfully creepy snowy landscape not seen (or shot so beautifully) since the should be more famous shocker Donner Pass.
As is the way in such movies (especially ones with such a short running time) Anne almost immediately begins to feel her son's presence in the house.

And I don't mean the ones she purchased in the January sales and put away for Christmas.

"Now how am I gonna explain THIS to my gran?"

Settling down to a lazy night with the photo albums after a busy day unpacking our cried-out couples plans are soon interrupted by the arrival of next door neighbour Dave McCabe (the always watchable Markham) and his oh-so slightly fruit loops wife Maddie (Gibney) who appear to have only turned up to impart information regarding the house's horrible history to its new occupants.

Oh yes, and us too.
As the bumps and trumps continue, the majority emanating from the uncomfortably hot - and spookily lit - basement, Anne becomes even more convinced that her son is trying to communicate from the other side but Paul, being a realist is sure it's something to do with the boiler and quickly phones heating engineer extraordinaire Joe (or Joe the Electrician as he's known to his friends) to look into it.
Not literally mind as he would possibly fall in and drowned or burn his face if it had been left on.
At the very least the steam would fog up his glasses.
If he wore glasses that is, which I doubt seeing as Marvin Patterson (in his first screen role) who plays Joe doesn't appear to wear any in the movie.
Tho' I don't know about in real life.
But I digress.

Oohing and aahing about the work as he waits patiently for the first of many cups of tea Joe is intrigued by a huge hole in the wall that seems to belch out the smell (but not the smoke) usually found around the back of kebab shops but his investigation is cut short when the lights go out and a shadowy, blackened figure jumps on his from the dark and scarily burns his arm via the power of touch.

Which I can safely assume isn't covered by the insurance.

Or was even mentioned by the estate agent.

What would Martin and Lucy say?

"Bodies in the cellar?....Brick 'em up and turn it into a selling feature!"

Wanting answers to the supernatural shenanigans at work in the house Anne calls her hippy-dippy psychic pals - and parents of her son's best buddie -  
Jacob (producer/writer/director Fessenden channelling WKRP in Cincinnati's Johnny Fever) and May (Lisa Marie) and invites them along for a fun weekend of wine, waffles and maybe even a seance or two.
What could possibly go wrong? 

"Shite in mah....oh, it appears you already have."

From the shiny headed mind of the man who gave us The International Playboys' finest 33 minutes comes a loving tribute to 80's horror that actually works on more than just a basic 'Look! Carpenter was cool' homage level.

David Robert Mitchell please take note.
Cribbing (OK, paying homage to) everything from Fulci's House By The Cemetery and Carpenter's The Fog via producers Malik, Hamza and Badie Ali's previous home-based horror House of The Devil and just like that latter day classic all this familiarity doesn't breed contempt but instead breeds a hauntingly effective atmosphere topped of with some genuine jumps and a surprising amount of over the top gore.

And best of all We Are Still Here is one of the few new horrors that is properly - and unapologetically - old school scary.

Performance wise the film can't be faulted (OK it can be....stand up Lisa Marie and a handful of townsfolk extras but I'm too nice to mention it) but frankly I'd forgive Geoghegan anything if he gives us another film even half as entertaining as this.
And for every unsure extra you have a top notch turn from the likes of  the truly terrific Monte Markham, the lovably loony Larry Fessenden and the true star of the piece Andrew Sensenig, an actor who takes a character that in the wrong hands could come across as an awful audience-cypher but in this case is imbued with such warmth and humanity that I found myself wanting the enter the movie and drive him to safety myself.
If there was an Oscar for nicest screen hubbie he'd win hands down.
Plus his choice in knitwear was top notch.

Andrew Sensenig: No crap captions just loadsa love.
Straight, sharp and to the point, We Are Still Here is a simple yet stylish reminder of what a real horror movie should be.


A lot.

Just please Ted, don't fuck up with your next movie or I'll look a right arse.

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