'We Go On'
Following up their intriguing debut ‘YellowBrickRoad’, writing/directing/editing team Jesse Holland and Andy Milton deliver another stab at psychological scares in ‘We Go On’. On a certain level, it’s a generic entry in the haunting horror genre filled with ghosties and ghoulies appearing from nowhere for jump scare goodness. On a deeper level, it’s a psychological mindfuck designed to slither into the brains of viewers.
The result is as uneven as it sounds, neither as viscerally thrilling or as intellectually satisfying as it could have been with a more directly focused approach to the genre. Still, as a low budget effort from burgeoning filmmakers, ‘We Go On’ continues to show promise from this pair of budding auteurs.
Clark Freeman stars as Miles, an infomercial editor (sweet gig) who has significant issues with fear. He suffers from almost every conceivable phobia and is desperate to find a cure. In an act of desperation, he places an ad offering $30,000 to anyone who can offer proof of life after death. At first, that leads to some episodic visits and false starts. An academic (John Glover) thinks he can show off the afterlife by confronting childhood traumas, and a psychic (Giovanna Zacarias) might actually be psychotic, but neither deliver the goods. Of all people, an airport maintenance worker (Jay Dunn) manages to offer our plucky protagonist a glimpse at a place where life and death intersect. After that, Miles can’t shake his awakening, seeing dead folks wherever he goes and finally finding some justification for all those wacky fears.
It’s a weird premise, but a good one. The unconventionally structured film stumbles and stops for a while before Dunn’s character comes on board and gives the movie a jolt of focus and shocks. While attention can wane a bit during the rambling setup, Holland and Milton are always in command of the style of their film. Shot in deliberately grungy colors and a scrappy indie aesthetic, the movie makes the most of limited resources and creates a grounded sense of realism to pull viewers in. When it comes time for the scares, the directing team use plenty of conventional suspense and fright grammar, but always within the grounded world they founded. That helps make the more outlandish elements of the plot easier to swallow and also keeps the damaged psyche of the protagonist at the forefront.
The acting is strong in a mumblecore manner, with performers using muted naturalism to further ground the story. It helps sell the crazy premise and ensures that the more visceral sequences sting. However, the passionately serious tone also hinders the more high-minded aspects of ‘We Go On’. Holland and Milton want to explore some of the deeper themes implied by their high concept premise, toying with the nature of fear and layering the specters with metaphors for trauma. Ultimately, the script doesn’t offer much more than surface level insights even though the style of the film demands a serious and introspective reading. At times, the thing can feel downright ponderous and that’s not exactly what most horror fans seek when they sit down with genre fare.
‘We Go On’ can often feel awkward, trying too hard to push out of the horror genre without quite offering the depth to justify all the ponderousness. Fortunately, the flick is made well enough that it works, and the fact that the filmmakers attempted to add a little extra ambition to their scare picture isn’t exactly a bad thing. With a more focused script, stronger cast and better production values, the duo might be able to pull off something truly special. For now, they remain intriguing new genre voices worth following. ‘We Go On’ is worth a peek for horror fans looking for something that offers a little thoughtfulness beneath the scares.