Are there any ways left for the haunted house genre to surprise us? I’m actually certain that there are, but We Are Still Here has no interest in looking for them. This is a no frills ghost story that relies entirely on genre to get its point across. Every haunted house cliche you can think of makes an appearance in its brief 84 minute running time. Strange noises spook new homeowners. Photographs move seemingly on their own. An old town of creepy local yokels conspire against haunted newcomers. A skeptical husband doubts his legitimately-spooked wife’s concerns. A seance backfires. A monster appears in the backseat of a moving car. Innocent house guests are possessed by demons. Creepy children get involved. The film even has the nerve to show a baseball slowly rolling down basement stairs. It’s all here.
I won’t bother you too much with the film’s plot, which, outside a couple minor twists & flourishes, plays out exactly how you would expect. All you really need to know is that a grieving family moves to a new town in the late 70s in order to instigate a fresh start after the loss of their son in a car crash. When it becomes apparent that the house is haunted by a powerful spirit (possibly their son’s) they invite his hippie roommate & his family to stay with them for moral support & spiritual cleansing. Ghostly hijinks & genre tropes ensue, driving the film to a concluding bout of blood-soaked mayhem involving the ghosts, the town folk, and the hippie house guests. No one is safe from We Are Still Here‘s spooky parade of violent cliches.
For all of its seen-it-before cheesiness, We Are Still Here is at least smart enough to deliver the goods in the monster department. The ghosts that haunt the basement (and eventually the town at large) are creepily-designed humanoids of smouldering ash. Their “skin” pops & bubbles, singeing everything it touches. I can’t recommend We Are Still Here as anything more than a routine genre exercise, but if you’re looking for some straight-forward ghostly action, you can do much worse than the brief, concise, burn-victim creature feature that’s delivered here. There’s certainly a market for this kind of back-to-the-basics horror cinema that’s emerged in recent productions like Insidious & The Conjuring, so I’m sure that this film will find its proper audience with ease. It’s a relatively harmless genre entry in that way – once you get past the flashes of horrific gore.