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Forever shedding our mortal coil has nearly all of us in a state of deep-seeded fear, if not curiosity. Do we truly die a permanent death, our bodies and minds lost to the ether for all time, or is there something more, a plane of existence where our spirits move on? We Go On may not have the answers to these questions, but it does pose more in this uncommon ghost story that is smarter than it looks, a film with genuinely disturbing moments that may have some flaws but is a far more emotionally impactful experience than its appearance might suggest.
Miles (Clark Freeman) is a young man suffering from extreme agoraphobia amid others, including a fear of cars, flying, trains, and just about anything else. Paralyzed by the thought of dying, he runs an ad in the paper offering to pay thirty-thousand dollars to anyone who can prove the existence of life after death. Naturally, he is inundated with replies, but sifts through the fakes and loonies and narrows it down to three potential legitimate subjects. With his protective and fearlessly determined mother Charlotte (Annette O’Toole) at his side, the two discover a terrifying circle of unimaginable horror.
Written and directed by Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton, We Go On does what so few in the genre do well, create authentic characters in front of the jumps rather than let them be props for the scares. The mother/son team is a great little twist that is surprisingly strong and their relationship is more than just a gimmick but an integral part of the story. Avoiding nearly all of the horror standards, Holland and Mitton bend a few times into the clichés but for the most part find some fresh corners in an overly-saturated market that lead to some brilliant moments of real psychological terror. These aren’t jump-from-the-dark-monster-scares happening to these characters, but to-the-core hauntings that ruin a person from the inside. Forever.
That said, We Go On is not what it might seem, a mystery as much as a horror, and it treats the ghost story as a catalyst for something else, which involves Charlotte and Miles’ deceased father, though to say more would be criminal, but it packs with great punch. Freeman is very good as Clarke, his fidgety mannerisms and clingy behavior genuinely convincing, and O’Toole is a wonder, her presence one that would seem rife with hackneyed platitudes but is instead, at times, singularly heartbreaking as we come to learn the burdens she bears.
We Go On isn’t lacking for scary imagery, but there is significant purpose behind what we see, and honestly, they aren’t so much frightening in the traditional sense but rather troubling for what they mean. This is a story about a man aggressively trapped by his fears and facing truths that are cause for the real nightmares and eventual awakening. While it won’t satisfy jump scare junkies, it does have lasting effect for those taken by the meaning of a haunting instead of the manner. With a terrific synth score by Mitton, he and Holland deliver a well-directed and cast film that does one better than most and is easily one of the better horror films of the year.
Movie description: We Go On is a 2017 horror/thriller about a man searching for proof that there is life after death, taking him on a journey through a terrifying nightmare.
Director(s): Jesse Holland, Andy Mitton
Actor(s): Annette O'Toole, Clark Freeman, John Glover
Genre: Horror, Drama