Paul (Andrew Sensenig) and Anne (genre-fave Barbara Crampton) Sacchetti have bought an old farmhouse in the idyllic New England countryside to escape the real world and try to get past the death of their son Bobby in a horrific car accident. No sooner do they start unpacking when Anne starts feeling the presence of her dead son. Things that go bump in the
But Anne is not as enlightened as we are. In a moment ripped right from the fabulous ghost story flick The Changeling, a baseball (shown to be in a box of their son's possessions in earlier unpacking) comes bouncing down the basement steps to Anne's surprise. Naturally, it's way too early in the movie for anything to truly rear its ugly head, so Anne is left with a melancholy wonder - as if she hoped her son would grace her with his ghostly presence.
When the electrician comes the next day, he is left alone in the basement to work on the boiler and is soon attacked by a supernatural being who is smokin' hot - and not in a good way! It reeks of Lucio Fulci's many cellar horrors, which is never a bad thing. It's our first glimpse of the ghosties that rule the Dagmar house. And the practical effects are a breath of fresh air, thank you.
As the two couples settle in for nightcaps and chatter, the restaurant in town gets a visit from Dave McCabe. He wants to know all about the couples, and what they talked about. He then gives hints as to what really happened in the Dagmar house in the past, and it's none too pretty.
We Are Still Here, while utilizing plenty of old tropes and clichés used thousands of times before, is still a very fun and scary way to kill an hour and a half. There's no doubt that having the leads all be adults and not screaming teenagers gives it a credibility missing in most of today's modern horror outings, and for this fan, having both Crampton and Fessenden in one flick is like the rapture. Crampton plays up her usual doe-eyed disbelief well here, and Fessenden playing a new-age stoner - well, I'm not sure it gets better than that. The rest of the cast is very good as well, with the notable exception of Lisa Marie, who either over-played or under-played nearly every scene she occupied. There was no happy medium for her, and it did put me off a bit. Though not enough to ruin the film. Someone like Illeana Douglas would have been just perfect here. Alas....
Side note: I even read somewhere that the character names in We Are Still Here are names of characters and actors from THBTC, so I guess that's an homage if I've ever heard one.
The subtle scares here were the best ones, truth be told. A glimpse of a ghoul in a picture frame, a pair of feet seen in the light under the door, someone standing behind a character who can't see them...these are the things that keep us up at night. Even more than the icky ghouls that have an age-old agenda and promise that the Fulci-inspired gore is imminent. And with the final act, we get all the gore we could ask for and more, but it never cheapens the feel of this genuinely enjoyable haunted house offering.
And on that note, I should have some whiskey. Something has got me in the mood!!