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Film Review: ‘We Go On’

A Los Angeles loner afraid of death discovers a little more about the afterlife than he wanted in this uneven but watchable supernatural thriller.

Clark Freeman, Annette O’Toole, John Glover, Giovanna Zacarius, Jay Dunn, Laura Heisler.

Official Site: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3904278/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_5

Like their Slamdance-premiered “Yellowbrickroad” six years ago, writing-directing-editing duo Andy Mitton and Jesse Holland’s sophomore feature (following a contribution to the omnibus “Chilling Visions: 5 Senses of Fear”) is a supernatural drama that will intrigue genre fans while frustrating those looking for more formulaic horror-content payoff. This uneven but watchable effort stars Clark Freeman as a man of many phobias whose terror of death leads him to find out more about the afterlife than he wanted. Given a significant boost by Annette O’Toole’s turn as the protagonist’s stubbornly protective mother, “We Go On” should attract attention at fantasy fests en route to decent home-format sales.

Able to indulge his agoraphobia thanks to a stay-at-home job editing infomercials, Miles Grissom (Freeman) is afraid of just about everything, but especially the one thing that pretty much everyone fears. Plagued by recurrent nightmares in which he loses control of his car (though he’s also afraid of driving), he decides to take a drastic step: placing an ad offering $30,000 to anyone who can provide reassuring proof that there is some kind of life after death. Naturally he’s flooded with responses, out of which a grand total of three (from a field of more than 1,000) look interesting as opposed to easily dismissible. Insisting on accompanying him as he checks them out is Charlotte (O’Toole), a flinty widow whose skepticism is surpassed only by her loyalty to this dysfunctional only child.

First up is Dr. Ellison (John Glover), an academic who believes the afterlife can be glimpsed when facing one’s greatest fears; to that end, he escorts Miles to the location of a formative childhood trauma. This exercise proves less than convincing, however. Of the others, Spanish-speaking medium Josefina (Giovanna Zararius) seems simply nuts, while a third prospect manages to get disqualified before a meeting can even take place.

However, amid these disappointments Miles meets airport-runway maintenance worker Nelson (Jay Dunn), who offers to get him “into that inner circle” where life and afterlife overlap. Turns out this is no idle promise — and Miles soon regrets his curiosity, as he finds himself “seeing dead people” everywhere and being haunted by one in particular. The latter can only be gotten rid of through various even-more-unpleasant means, one of which would necessitate the involvement of Nelson’s onetime girlfriend, Alice (Laura Heisler).

Once Nelson enters the pic about midpoint, the narrative becomes more focused, if also dependent on routine boo scares involving visions of screaming corpse-people. As with “Yellowbrickroad,” a sort of slasher pic minus the usual cheap thrills, “We Go On” provokes both admiration and some annoyance with its meandering, occasionally cryptic storytelling. Miles is a borderline-exasperating adult-crybaby hero at times, one who surely tests the patience of his mom — though O’Toole, creating a fully rounded, relatable character despite some implausible writing, does much to keep the proceedings psychologically grounded. Supporting performances are solid.

The modest production package, shot in effectively nondescript Los Angeles locations, is professionally turned in all tech and design departments.

Film Review: 'We Go On'

Reviewed online, San Francisco, March 5, 2016. (In Cinequest Film Festival.) Running time: 89 MIN.

Production: An Untethered Films presentation in association with Filmed Imagination. Produced by Richard W. King, Irina Popov, Logan Brown. Executive producers, Arnie Holland, David Lester, Marius Haugan, Laura Lester, Hank Abbott.

Crew: Directed, edited by Andy Mitton, Jesse Holland. Screenplay, Mitton, from a story by Mitton, Holland. Camera (color, HD), Jeffrey Waldron; music, Mitton; production designer, Yong Ok Lee; costume designer, Jacqueline Martinez; art director, Joshua Sampson; sound (Dolby Digital), Anthony Enns; sound designers, Dan Brennan, Mitton, Rick Schnupp; re-recording mixer, Brennan; special makeup effects, Josh Russell, Sierra Russell; assistant director, Marco Bargellini.

With: Clark Freeman, Annette O’Toole, John Glover, Giovanna Zacarius, Jay Dunn, Laura Heisler.

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