★★ out of ★★★★★
Ok…I think it’s time for you guys to leave.
Is is possible to legitimately like every last element of a film, but ultimately not like the film itself? Why yes it is. And guess what? We Are Still Here is that film! Director Ted Geoghegan takes us on a fun trip down memory land replete with solid actors, creepy haunts, chilling locations, but sadly (read: emphasis on the sadly) a film that just can’t quite decide where it wants to go. Act one had a Changling/House of the Devil vibe, Act two borrowed from the Haunting of (insert your haunting location here), and Act three was a comical Dead Alive thrill ride. Kind of a Scooby Doo sandwich: pickles, peanut butter, anchovies, marshmallows, and Swiss cheese.
We Are Still Here involves a middle-aged couple (Paul and Anne) who, following the recent death of their son, decide to get away from it all and purchase a creepy farmhouse WAY off the beaten path. But there’s a darker reason why this rural New England crib was so cheap — and it ain’t because no one wants to live in rural New England. The husband/wife pair settles in with little to no problems, but much like its progenitor, the Changling, we discover that there’s something inherently wrong with picking up your entire life and relocating to complete isolationism. Interestingly, the Director toys with a 1970s set, but it takes about 15+ minutes to realize the film is actually set in the 1970s. While it’s clear that they really gave the 1970s costumes and set design a solid try this is a tough one to pull off.
Convinced, yes convinced, that their recently deceased son is kicking around in their newly refurbished spook house, things start to get witchy. A very unnerving visit (and probably one of the best scenes in the film) from the neighbors is followed by bad dreams, a furnace busted by their local ghouls, and those strange bumps in the night. Not built on a Indian burial ground creepy, but close! Paul and Anne discover that in the 1800s their house used to be a mortuary, but the mortician wasn’t burying the bodies, oh no, something much more sinister.
How do you deal with a spook house haunted by an 1800s mortician? Call in your clairvoyant friend and her stoner spouse — who just happen to have a son who’s the best friend of your deceased son. Act three: possession/exorcism/bloodbath! Clearly the Director, Ted Geoghegan, didn’t really know how to end this film and he appears to just throw everything against the wall to see what sticks. We all learn together that clumsy exposition, ridiculous fight scenes, and lots of gore don’t go together like the aforementioned pickles, peanut butter, anchovies, marshmallows, and Swiss cheese.
The really interesting thing about We Are Still Here happens during the credits where the viewer is invited to look at old-timey press clips that lay out the whole spook show. With a little better story telling and clever integration of the history of the house, We Are Still Here could have been a winner. Unfortunately we’re left to sort through a pile of pickles, peanut butter, anchovies, marshmallows, and Swiss cheese.