By MICHAEL GINGOLD
Starring Clark Freeman, Annette O’Toole and Jay Dunn
Directed by Andy Mitton and Jesse Holland
Written by Andy Mitton
Building on the promise of their eerie debut feature YELLOWBRICKROAD, filmmakers Andy Mitton and Jesse Holland may well have their breakout movie with WE GO ON, a scary and imaginative take on seeing dead people.
Making its Canadian premiere at Montreal’s Fantasia as part of an award-winning festival tour this year, WE GO ON is about a guy who actually wants to meet a ghost—or some form of hard evidence of an afterlife. Terrified of death, and even of venturing outside his Los Angeles home, Miles Grissom (Clark Freeman) goes so far as to offer $30,000 to anyone who can offer him that proof. Although his widowed mother Charlotte (Annette O’Toole—nice to see her back on the big screen) has little faith in the existence of the paranormal, she nonetheless joins him on his quest, which at first leads only to flakes and dead ends. Then Miles encounters an airport worker named Nelson (Jay Dunn), who seems to hold the key to the answers Miles seeks.
In the first act of WE GO ON, Mitton, Holland and Freeman develop a compelling portrait of a man so stricken by personal fears that he’s willing to stare into the great beyond in the interest of getting on with his life. O’Toole makes a perfect foil for his obsessive quest; her Charlotte is equal parts skeptic and loving mom whose overall motivation is simply to protect her son. Then, when Nelson enters the picture and Miles discovers his connection to the spirit world, the storyline takes a sharp turn and just keeps twisting. Miles gets confirmation of the afterlife, all right, and finds out how difficult it is to get rid of it; soon he doesn’t know where to turn, and the audience can’t predict what’s coming next. The one thing for sure is that Mitton and Nelson deliver a number of good jolts and chilling visuals along the way.
WE GO ON’s central notion of ghosts attaching themselves to people as opposed to places feels somewhat inspired by JU-ON/THE GRUDGE and other Asian horrors, though there are no spectral girls with long hair in this one. A dark-haired young woman named Alice (Laura Heisler) does enter the picture, but she’s one of the living and her part in the scenario holds surprises of its own. Both contemplative and uncompromising in the way it depicts interactions between the living and the dead, WE GO ON is also very assured in its craft. The filmmakers make strong use of unfamiliar LA locations, and their attention to sound design (with Mitton himself providing the score) is as creepily effective as it was in YELLOWBRICKROAD. With just two features, the duo have established themselves among the most interesting up-and-coming genre talents, and their new movie’s title can surely be applied to their careers as well.