The Sacchettis, Anne (Barbara Crampton) and Paul (Andrew Sensenig) are a middle-aged couple who have recently lost their adult son, and are still grieving. To escape from it all, they have moved into a house in the middle of nowhere in the frozen north, they just feel as if they need to be alone now and this is the ideal place for them. They begin to unpack and enjoy the peace and quiet, but the absence of their late offspring is still apparent in their lives, and a framed photograph on the hall table won't be a substitute, but it will have to do. What they don't know is that there is a presence in the house anyway, in the cellar where the boiler is, which Paul notes is very warm and there is a smell of smoke...
Director and writer Ted Geoghegan was inspired to come up with We Are Still Here after being a fan of Lucio Fulci's Italian horrors, specifically in this case The House by the Cemetery which he sort of updated, but then again sort of did not for this production. Whichever, he chose it as his first feature at the helm after a career of penning scripts and producing for the American independent horror scene, something two of the cast members had become very enthusiastic about in the years recent to this. Barbara Crampton got to headline the movie after becoming a fan favourite when a scream queen of the nineteen-eighties, meanwhile Larry Fessenden was a fixture on both sides of the camera.
Fessenden had fingers in many pies for this chiller lark, and was always happy to assist an up and coming filmmaker by appearing in their work, so much so that his generosity had ensured he had turned into a welcome face in movies where quite often he would be the most recognisable member of the cast, simply by dint of showing up in so many low budget efforts. Couple that with his distinctive phizzog and his dedicated performances and the feeling that you were in safe hands often translated to the younger filmmakers who chose to cast him, and so it was here, with his friend of the Sacchettis somehow married to Lisa Marie, or rather Lisa Marie playing the crystal-loving best pal of Anne.
They show up at the house to help their pals through their difficult time, and maybe add a touch of the psychic as well. The trouble with that being if you had watched even a couple of shockers before you would be anticipating most of the supporting cast as cannon fodder for the nasties in the basement, and when the friends' son and his girlfriend are shown to be on the road to the new home with the spurious motive of "assisting" the general vibe of the comfort to be offered, you would not be surprised to see them destroyed within about five minutes of appearing on the screen. What was doing the destroying, then? Oh, just your common or garden unquiet dead bearing a massive grudge.
Their gimmick was that these entities were so hot that they would pass through flesh like a warm knife through butter, so although for much of the relatively brief running time it appeared Geoghegan was opting for atmosphere and quiet chills, by the end he had embraced his inner Lucio and served up a gorefest. Not any old gorefest, but one which eschewed the computer graphics that many fans turned their noses up at (though there was a little enhancement along the way) and fell back on the practical latex and corn syrup effects that Fulci himself would have implemented way back then in his horror heyday. It did feel like you had to wait a while for a pay-off you may or may not have wished for, but the director handled the mayhem with skill, rendering what was a little Spartan and frankly cheap-looking with more oomph that reflected his interest in the genre. We Are Still Here remained tied to the town with a guilty secret template we had seen so many times, but it was all in the careful presentation to make it worthwhile for... well, for aficionados of the sort of horror Crampton used to make. Music by Wojciech Golczewski.