We Are Still Here
While I think this comic portrays a satire that would commonly dismiss plot-holes in various haunted house films, it does not hold true in We Are Still Here. The film actually spends some time to explain the situation of the house, its previous and current residents, and the town in which the home resides. It's a haunted house film that progresses into so much more, with a little mystery, solid performances, an air of self-aware goofiness, and surpisingly effective gore.
This film pulls concepts from other famous horror movies, and even basks in the aura of the period its honoring, primarily the 70's and 80's. Delivering a presence that comes across like a hipster's wet nightmare, the film has a touch of indie dark comedy throughout until the climax takes such a sharp turn into supernatural brutality that you can hardly believe you are watching the same film, even with the glimpses of spiritual violence that preceded it.
This film brilliantly balances comedy, drama, and various aesthetics of horror into an entertaining romp that appears more substantial than it actually is. You are regularly reminded that you are watching a well-produced low-budget horror film and as such you shouldn't take it too seriously, but with strong performances and effective directing and visuals, you often forget that this isn't a production that should be impressing you. Yet you find yourself satisfied with its creepiness and wit. The average age of the cast certainly plays a part in the efficacy of the acting, with only two characters dropping the curve below 40. Sadly, it is difficult to further divulge the quality of the film without spoiling some of its elements, so...
Broken down to its bare bones, the schematics of the plot are merely influenced with the nuances of films before it. The damned townsfolk (Silent Hill) forced to worship a dark force they awakened (Children of the Corn) while a couple moves into the haunted home (Amityville Horror), slowly discovering the reality that their new house contains an ancient evil bent on spreading death. In these cases, the originality isn't prevalent, but the plot's gradual resolution leads to revelations that give some interesting boundaries (or lack thereof) to the haunted house plot structure.
I found We Are Still Here to be far less flawed than most horror movies I've seen of late. The unexpectedly gory finale was a pleasant surprise in a fairly tame film. I can't help but feel a sense of reluctance to declare it in such high regard as some whispers from others have mentioned. The haunted house's motivations are far more believable than the choppy and ill-conceived behavior of the townsfolk at times. It was unfortunate that it wasn't the deadly spirits that pull you from the reality of the film, but the plot-hole-creating actions of the cult-like villagers. The dark spirits have their moments, and their design goes far beyond the conventional, but, beyond a few bright moments of good cinematography, they lacked a truly fear-inducing effect. With a minor negligence to these moments, this film provides a genuinely enjoyable experience and something that feels like a good blend of homage and fresh thinking by the time the credits roll.
Horror Qualifier: 8/10
Horror Quality: 6/10
Film Quality: 7/10