The most human horror movie I’ve seen in a long time.
That might sound like strange praise, but I’ve had that phrase on the tip of my tongue since I walked out of the theatre. Directors Andy Mitton and Jesse Holland bring us We Go On. It all starts with Miles Grissom (Clark Freeman), a man that somehow has acquired a phobia to everything – specially death. Eager to get rid of his fears, he offers a large reward to whoever gives him any proof that there’s something after death.
Sounds like a ludicrous premise, but instead of bringing in the teenage gang comprised of character tropes, we get something rather banal. It’s just Miles, a grown man with a series of phobias, and his protective mother, Charlotte (Annette O’Toole). It’s almost like a slice-of-life drama which happens to take place in a horror movie. Miles is not a complete fool, he’s wise to categorize and summarily eliminate the legions of fake offerings that come pouring through his inbox. However, he can’t shake three particular offerings plus a cryptic message from an unknown caller. So, off we go to see what a professor, an entrepreneur and a medium have to offer, his mother firmly in tow.
As much as I want to tell you what happens, I really don’t want to give you too many details. Suffice to say that Miles will eventually find what he though was looking for and find himself over his head. Yes, this is a horror film but each character makes this film so human that I forgot about the horror halfway through. Annette O’Toole shines as Miles’ mother. Her relationship with Miles is the focus of the story and the reason why Miles is not alone. I found it so refreshing to see grown up adults in a horror movie acting like adults, imperfect and all, rather than the caricatures of adulthood that plague most horror films, where the focus is on teenagers. It gives the movie a lot more solid ground. Also, there’s hints of humor here and there. They are not forced, just awkward and unscripted as real life can be.
The low scale of the film is also appropriate. There’s no huge mansion. There is no long, curving staircase. There’s no basement. It’s Los Angeles with its highways, its airport and the semi-abandoned neighborhood of Surfridge as its settings. Also, every character has individual quirks – not as severe as Miles’ phobias, but definitely giving them some personality. Interestingly enough, this is both true of the living and the dead.
Highs: A very human portrayal of relationships, sometimes healthy and sometimes toxic. Unlike other horror movies, ghosts do not stop being human after death. Humans also are not particularly forgiving of the departed. The living are still a bigger threat than the dead. There’s a few twists from the formula.
Lows: It loses some of its horror edge past a certain point. It can feel like it wants to be a drama more than horror.
Highly recommended if you wanted to see real characters in a horror setting. Myself, I was elated to find real people in a horror film. Horror fans wanting gore and stronger stuff might be disappointed.
Coming up, maybe!
- Wednesday, July 27: Familyhood (South Korea).
- Friday, July 29: Too Young To Die (Japan) / Yoga Hosers (USA).
- Saturday, July 30: Bakuman (Japan).
- Sunday, July 31: Train to Busan (Japan) / Before I Wake (USA).
- Wednesday, August 3: Don’t Breathe (USA).
That will do for now.