'We Are Still Here': Film Review

We Are Still Here Still - H 2015
Courtesy of MPI Media

We Are Still Here Still - H 2015

Plays like an old ABC TV "Movie of the Week" — and that's a compliment

A grieving couple makes the mistake of moving into a haunted house in Ted Geoghegan's old-fashioned horror film

Horror fans will have a field day with Ted Geoghegan's retro haunted-house thriller featuring a cast of genre veterans and nostalgically recalling such cult classics as The House by the Cemetery and innumerable others. This low-budget debut feature has its pacing problems, and the special effects are strictly of the cheesy variety, but it provides enough genuine scares to make it thoroughly enjoyable, especially if seen at a drive-in on a hot summer night. And special props for the casting of 79-year-old Monte Markham in a role in which the veteran character actor truly sinks his teeth.

The storyline doesn't win any points for originality, but no matter. It concerns middle-aged couple Paul (Andrew Sensenig) and Anne (Barbara Crampton, of Re-Animator fame), still mourning the loss of their son Bobby in a car accident, who move into a century-old house in a remote New England town.

As any horror aficionado can tell you, big mistake. They're soon greeted by creepy neighbors Dave (Markham) and Cat (Connie Neer), who tells them that the house used to belong to a family of morticians who incurred the wrath of the townspeople after they were caught burying empty coffins and selling the bodies. Shortly before they leave, Cat seals the ominous deal by surreptitiously handing Paul a note that reads, "This house needs families. Get out."

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But when things do begin mysteriously going bump in the night — and day, for that matter — the grieving Anne believes that the house is haunted by the ghost of their late son. Try telling that to the hapless electrician who nearly winds up being burned alive while trying to fix a boiler in the basement.

As the mysterious events keep occurring, the couple call in their friends Jacob (veteran horror filmmaker Larry Fessenden), an aging pothead, and his New Age wife, May (Lisa Marie, who played Vampira in Tim Burton's Ed Wood), who supposedly has psychic abilities.

Also showing up are Jacob and May's son (Michael Patrick), Bobby's former college roommate, and his girlfriend (Kelsea Dakota), who don't stick around very long since they become the house's first victims.

"That house probably has more demons than the Book of Revelations," Dave observes at one point, and it isn't long into the proceedings before they begin making appearances, looking like very pissed-off, charred corpses.

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Although the film moves slowly at first, the scares begin picking up after an ill-advised attempt at a seance that naturally goes horribly wrong. And hell really breaks loose in the final act boasting enough bloody gore to appease modern-day fans.

Showcasing juicy performances by its actors who tear into their stock roles with admirable conviction, the film looks terrific, with Karim Hussain's widescreen photography making the wintry locations look particularly ominous.  

Be sure to stick around during the end credits, in which a series of flashing newspaper headlines provides enough backstory for a possible sequel.

Production: Snowfort Pictures, Dark Sky Films
Cast: Barbara Crampton, Andrew Sensenig, Larry Fessenden, Lisa Marie, Monte Markham, Susan Gibeny, Michael Patrick, Kelsea Dakota
Director/screenwriter: Ted Geoghegan
Producer: Travis Stevens
Executive producers: Malik B. Ali, Badie Ali, Hamza Ali, Greg Newman
Director of photography: Karim Hussain
Production designer: Marcella Brennan
Editors: Aaron Crozier, Josh Ethier
Costume designer: John Houston
Composer: Wojciech Golczewski

Not rated, 84 min.