There's obvious affection for the hearty shivers-to-carnage trajectory of horror films past in writer-director Ted Geoghegan's "We Are Still Here," a wintry haunting Geoghegan even sets in the 1970s.
Mourning their son's untimely death, bereaved parents Anne ("Re-Animator" star and cult film veteran Barbara Crampton) and Paul (Andrew Sensenig) decamp to an old, snow-blanketed house in a New England village, the kind where natives stare at newcomers, and "friendly" neighbors merrily inform you of your home's grim history.
For a good hour, Geoghegan tries but stumbles in finding footing with the loving clichés — noises, shadows, visitors (including Larry Fessenden and Lisa Marie) who are surely doomed — and the tongue-in-cheek vibe. The visuals rarely generate any lasting tension to boot. (Half the movie feels like establishing shots of the gloomy outside of the house, while inside, Geoghegan's restless camera never seems to know where it should be.)
Things pick up for the bloody third act, though, when the till-now-hidden predators — charred, ember-emitting figures — go on the offensive, and a skillful gore effects team steps in to do whatever the opposite is of a cleanup job. Once "We Are Still Here" unsticks itself from hommage mode, it finds something cathartically funny inside the fearsome.
"We Are Still Here"
MPAA rating: None.
Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes.
Playing: Laemmle's Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills.