Ted Geoghegan’s haunted house horror commits the same faux pas as two of its supporting characters in its earliest moments. When new-to-the-country homeowners Anne and Paul Sacchetti (Barbara Crampton and Andrew Sensenig) invite their neighbors the McCabes in for a drink, Dave McCabe (Monte Markham) launches into the house’s grisly history, guzzles his whiskey, grabs his wife, and makes for the door before the Sacchettis can even wet their lips. An efficiently bizarre and blunt way to set the plot in motion, it also sets the pace for a movie that speed reads through its mythology and subsequent action in under 80 minutes, leaving us just like the Sacchettis after their queer encounter: stunned, baffled, and not the least bit annoyed.
Aside from its shortness – not often the cause of much complaint – We Are Still Here is a minor gem from burgeoning production company Snowfort Pictures. Carrying a strong pedigree (and owing a lot to Lucio Fulci’s The House By The Cemetery, which I don’t know), it follows a familiar trajectory spiced up by solid twists and stylistic choices. Plain static shots are disturbed by voyeuristic handheld shots from around corners, through doors, and behind banisters, making the evil influence that plagues the Sacchettis’ new home an omnipresent, and not particularly shy, threat. In fact, the spirits inhabiting the home are refreshingly forthcoming, which is one positive result of Geoghegan’s brevity. Geoghegan proves to be capable at building tension and moments of quiet chilliness, but his ghosts aren’t afraid to attack in the full dark, jumping out of the shadows be damned.
Crampton and Sensenig have a nice rapport as grieving parents escaping the city, and Larry Fessenden and Lisa Marie offer fun support as their new-agey friends called in for spiritual guidance. It’s the special effects and creature concept for the charred ghosts, however, that make for the biggest selling point. As much as some finicky viewers may identify incompatible supernatural phenomena going on just for the sake of weirdness, nothing beats the arresting image of a white-eyed Balrog-person staring straight through your soul to keep you up at night. Geoghegan certainly leaves you wanting more, always a virtue of good storytelling, but when the extent of the town legend surrounding these creepy, pissed-off ghosts is learned, you’ll feel short-changed by the abrupt ending.