$30,000 for proof of the afterlife seems like an underpayment, but when it’s all the payer can afford I suppose you can’t say that he’s a cheapskate. Anyway, that’s the general premise of We Go On, a decent little horror flick with some quite-qualified actors available on Shudder.
A mostly ordinary man named Miles is so terrified of the idea of dying that he’s willing to give half of his recently inherited $60,000 to anyone who can prove to him that death isn’t the end of it all (he spends the other half on the ad calling for all potential purveyors of paranormal proof). I say “mostly” ordinary because Miles has a pretty run-of-the-mill job (well, by movie standards) and life, but is exceptional in that he’s host to an inordinate amount of phobias. On top of thanatophobia (death anxiety), he has agoraphobia, acrophobia, septophobia, and vehophobia. We find out about the latter in a reasonably effective opening-scene nightmare, and it’s apparently caused by the knowledge of his father’s death via car accident.
Or is it? The plot of this movie turns on a lot of lies–an almost extraordinary amount of lies considering the sub-90-minute runtime. Men lie, women lie, ghosts lie, it’s a liar’s bonanza. At a certain point, in fact, it feels like the movie’s just piling on deceptions and twists as a way of running out the clock in order to get to a respectable feature-length. The story seems like it should provide enough content to get it beyond the finish line without padding, but a few early segments seem to get shorter shrift than they deserved.
I say segments because the movie has an almost episodic feel early on. It reminded me of 2017’s much-praised Ghost Stories in that regard. Both stories have a lead who is visiting with people promising a supernatural experience, with said lead looking for evidence that verifies what they want to believe. I actually found the premise of We Go On to be much more interesting than that of Ghost Stories, even if the former can’t hope to match the latter’s execution.
Still, We Go On made a strong early impression with me. The acting and characters help considerably in that regard. Miles is played by Mark Freeman, who looks like either John Krasinski or Charlie Hunnam or Matthew Fox or just like himself sometimes depending on the angle and lighting. His devoted mother is portrayed by a very game Annette O’Toole, and the first person attempting to cash in on the $30,000 reward is played by the always-fun John Glover. Giovanna Zacarias is convincing, albeit in the stereotypical role of “Latin American psychic expositor and assistant to the lead(s)”, and Jay Dunn does suitably unsettling work in his role.
O’Toole and Freeman in particular have great chemistry as mother and son, and the script has just the right amount of humor between them to keep their interactions light, despite Miles’s troubles, until the situation turns too dire for that to be an option.
And things do indeed turn dire as Miles and his skeptical mother, Charlotte, work to separate the psychics from the charlatans. While the movie isn’t a scarefest or particularly atmospheric, it does have a couple of effective, pulse-quickening moments, as well as an extended sequence that really seemed primed to make this movie a true gem. Alas, the story could not capitalize on the momentum it had generated up to that point.
The inconsistency of the writing for We Go On is what holds it back. The characterization is good throughout, as is the humor, but there are some indefensibly poor plot decisions that crop up later in the movie, one of which has to do with crashing a funeral, and two of which have to do with guns being brandished in broad-ass daylight. Granted, the people drawing these guns are emotionally compromised to a severe degree at the time, but the moments as a whole don’t make much sense even taking that into consideration.
These flaws are not enough to sink the picture, however. While it strikes me as more of a missed opportunity than a legitimately good film, I didn’t feel like it had wasted my time.
Final Grade: Surprisingly solid, just short of good.