Stars: Clark Freeman, Annette O’ Toole, John Glover, David Bickford, Justin Carpenter, Jay Dunn, Edwin Garcia II, Laura Heisler, Terry Kaye, Logan Kishi, Peter Lucas | Written and Directed by Jesse Holland, Andy Mitton
Phobia-ridden and driven by a sense of existential dread (and also, literally, his mother, in her car) a man places an ad in the newspaper: prove the existence of life after death, win thirty thousand dollars. Of the many replies he receives (including, apparently, many masturbators), Miles narrows the applicants down to just three – a scientist, a medium and an entrepreneur.
First and foremost, We Go On is a road movie; a mother and her son, seeking answers. Like a downbeat Mulder and Scully, the sceptic (or flat-out unbeliever) and the agnostic, scrabbling for hope in a world which often terrifies the latter. Such a concept would be nothing without a strong pair of leads, and this it has in spades with Clark Freeman (looking like a slightly schlubby, grey-bearded Channing Tatum) and the always wonderful Annette O’ Toole. It’s a warm, fun pairing, Freeman’s quiet moroseness off-set nicely by O’ Toole’s fiery scepticism and protectiveness. Even if Annette O’ Toole does look much too young to be playing his mother.
Ultimately and inevitably, the film does take a dive into jump scares and screeching pop-up ghosts, as the answers Miles seeks begin to torment him at every turn (think The Eye or The Sixth Sense). This is marginally less interesting than the film’s initial promise, but is slickly presented and frequently chilling. Freeman is brilliantly melodramatic too, which makes his haunting far more entertaining than it could have been. This segment of the story does require O’ Toole to be absent for long stretches of time though, robbing the film of its best asset.
The slow-burn element may put off many viewers, especially as the story never really seems to hit its stride once the road trip bit is done with. Once they’re out of the car, it becomes more of a traditional ghost/haunting story, not taking advantage of the more interesting characters established earlier in the film. John Glover is particularly fun in his small role, completing a minor Smallville reunion with one-time Martha Kent Annette O’ Toole. Still, it remains more compelling than most low-budget ghost stories of this ilk, and it looks a treat too.
Atmospheric, spooky and excellently acted, We Go On is one of the better supernatural horror movies of recent years. Like its lead, however, it’s just a little too mopey. If it had gone even a little further, maybe it could have achieved true greatness.
We Go On is available exclusively on Shudder from February 23rd.