SHUDDER REVIEW: WE GO ON
Release: February 2017
Directors: Andy Mitton, Jesse Holland
Screenplay: Andy Mitton
Cast: Clark Freeman, Annette O’Toole, Giovanna Zacarías, Jay Dunn
Production Co: Filmed Imagination
“You know how every year or two, there’s a headline that pops up about an asteroid that’s maybe on a crash course to Earth to kill us all, right? And then they say, ‘Whoops, nevermind. It’ll miss us, death from space is cancelled.’ And we get that relief…we go on about our lives like there’s no asteroid. But that’s insane, because really there still is an asteroid, and we should be afraid because we all have one coming, and it’s on a one-hundred percent guaranteed collision course with you. Your world will end. We don’t get to know when, all we know for sure is that it never misses.” - Miles Grissom
No one can say that Miles Grissom doesn’t call it like he sees it. Unfortunately, he sees things with a very bleak outlook. We Go On is an intriguing look into the life of a man who is alive but doesn’t live, and wants to know what life is like once we’re no longer alive.
The title card opens with a bright white light, beckoning us to enter. The film sets the tone immediately by placing us in an apparent nightmare. A man drives along a road, and his steering wheel suddenly seizes up. He can’t budge it. The car accelerates on its own. The man’s breathing quickens and sweat pours down his temple as he tries - and fails - to pump the brakes. Faster. Faster. The tinkling of shattered glass and the crunch of crumpled metal accompany wailing sirens and a blurred glimpse of first responders arriving on the scene, before fading to black.
It was all a dream. A recurring nightmare that Miles (Clark Freeman) has that feeds his around-the-clock fear of death and what lies beyond it. Within a minute it becomes clear that Miles leaves in a constant state of paranoia. He clutches his belongings close as he rides public transit (due to an aversion to driving, stemming from the tragic death of his father), and is always looking over his shoulder and isolating himself from others whenever he can. He fears heights, water, rot, and crowds among countless other things. His agoraphobia is almost crippling (though he does make a living from home editing infomercials), leaving his aggressively adoring mother (Annette O’Toole) as his only real companion. Even when he catches a ride in his mother’s car, the child locks are stuck in place, quietly underscoring the meek, childlike state of apprehension Miles lives in. After yet another round of car collision dreams, Miles places an ad in the local media, offering $30,000 to anyone who can definitively prove that there is life after death.
Out of the mountain of replies he receives, Miles is most interested in 3 candidates: a medium, a scholar, and an entrepreneur. Each approaches the supernatural from a different perspective, but all claim to guarantee the results that Miles seeks. Once he meets each candidate in person and sees what they’re all about, he dismisses them fairly quickly, and returns a mysterious call from a man named Nelson who offers to get Miles to the point where life and afterlife intersect. Miles agrees to meet him, and quickly comes to regret that decision. It’s at this point in the film when the story picks up pace and starts to really dig into the genre.
Shot mostly in Los Angeles, We Go On is the second effort of Andy Mitton and Jesse Holland after their joint effort Yellowbrickroad premiered at Slamdance half a decade ago. Clark Freeman throws himself wholly into the perpetually terrified role of Miles, letting his wide, bright eyes do most of the heavy lifting. He’s grounded by Annette O’Toole’s determined performance as a mother who will do anything to ensure her child’s safety and happiness. The film feels unsure of itself until Nelson enters the picture, missing out on opportunities to build the same dread that Miles faces daily and instead relying on predictable jump scares that are far below the great narrative and tone that Mitton and Holland build. The third act refuses to spoon-feed its audience, taking several clever turns that culminated in a satisfying ending.
We Go On is currently streaming exclusively on Shudder.
Anya Novak is a horror enthusiast and freelance writer, with bylines at Horror-Writers and Daily Grindhouse.