Like in The Shining, there’s a house with really bad mojo, a blue- collar black guy who meets a grim fate, a creepy bar (Buffalo Bill’s, although here it’s a real establishment) and a star with forehead to spare – Andrew Sensenig as Paul. He’s a skeptical husband who sports Charlie Brown sweaters.
However, We Are Still Here is not Kubrick-inspired. Instead it derives its inspiration from the Italian master of the macabre, Lucio Fulci, albeit with a narrative structure that makes far more sense and a lot less nasty gore.
Anne and Paul have lost their son Bobby in a flat bed truck mishap and are still rebuilding their lives. Anne (Re-Animator’s still formidable Scream Queen Barbara Crampton) is convinced she “can feel Bobby in the house.” This should result in a quick call to a real estate agent before the ink is dry on the closing date, but we’ve been around the block a few times in horror and we know this neighbourhood too.
Soon, picture frames are cracking, there are odd smells coming from the basement, and after Anne finds Bobby’s baseball glove, a ball ominously bounces down the stairs (perhaps that very same ball that cursed the Toronto Blue Jays’ 2015 playoff run).
Their creepy intrusive neighbors pop by for libations, in this case some J&B whiskey, and the male half informs them of…wait for it… the home’s unsavory past!
Apparently, the ol’ homestead was a Fin de siècle funeral parlor run by one unscrupulous Mr. Dagmar, who emptied loved ones’ coffins and sold off body parts to the local university (and “to Orientals in Boston” who run restaurants). Anne needs no convincing and enlists the help of her two friends – wacky hippies who drive a beat up Plymouth with a dreamcatcher on the dash who are masters in the art of conjuring spirits.
They all soon find out that something insidious lurks inside.
We Are Still Here is a loving, crafty, capable tribute to haunted house horror. There are dynamite jump scares, and if supernatural’s your thing, you’ll be justly rewarded. Add a half-star if that’s the case.
***1/2 (out of 5)