Ted Geoghegan has been in the horror business for over a decade now. Initially a producer and writer, Geoghegan has moved himself behind the camera for his first feature as a director/writer for the deeply chilling creeper We Are Still Here (our review here). Starring genre staples Barbara Crampton and Larry Fessenden (who Geoghegan fondly refers to as his “drinking buddy”), We Are Still Here is an icy ghost story of the highest order – one that rejects many trends of popular horror films while also paying its dues to the godfathers like Lovecraft and Fulci.
I had the opportunity to sit down with Ted at the Stanley Film Fest…
ON WHY HE CHOSE THIS FILM TO DIRECT:
I was never really bit by the directing bug. And I had written this initially for someone else to direct – like most projects I’m a part of. The longer I worked on it, the more I fell in love with it. So I asked the director that I had initially intended on working on the film with if he wouldn’t mind if I took it on as something I could potentially direct. He was extremely cool about it.
I felt very passionately about it. I brought it to my good friend Travis Stevens at Snowfort Pictures and he brought it to Dark Sky who ultimately financed the film and off we went.
ON SETTING IT IN NEW ENGLAND:
I like sleepy New England ghost stories, mainly because I’m a huge Lovecraft fan. His whole mythos is based around New England. The whole idea of strange things happening underneath a seemingly idyllic community, there was a lot of that going on in this film. There are a lot of subtle Lovecraft references throughout the movie, so small that I don’t think the casual person would ever catch any of them. It’s a part of America I think is quite beautiful and I think there’s something creepy about its beauty. And the idea of shooting it under blankets of snow also just seemed like something that had not been done before.
ON BUCKING TRENDS:
I was very adamant about using as little CGI as humanly possible. I wanted it to feel like the films I grew up watching, which to me felt very real. And to me CGI is so fake that it tends to take away from how I feel about films.
But from a storytelling perspective, I wanted all of the main characters to be in their 50s or later. The four main characters, the youngest of them is in their mid-50s, and the nest supporting character, Dave McCabe (Monte Markham), he’s 82. I feel like the majority of films that I really grew up watching and that had an effect on me were about adults making adult decisions in a completely unreal environment. To me, there’s something really scary about that.
I mean you look at something like The Changeling and it’s George C. Scott with a ghost! I’m currently 35 and for me, I don’t believe in ghosts. But if I suddenly met a ghost today, how I would react to that encounter is monumentally different than how I would’ve reacted when I was 15. And I like to believe that it would be more shocking and amazing if I had a ghost encounter at 55 or 75. There’s so much wisdom that comes with age, but it’’s still fun to stick the wrench in the works. So I think more than anything that’s the trend I wanted to buck the most. I wanted my film to be about smart, likeable adults who are making wise decisions in a totally unreal scenario.
Photo via the Stanley Film Festival