Review of 'Ghostbusters: Afterlife'

ghostbusters_afterlife.jpg After the disappointment of the 2016 reboot of the Ghostbusters franchise, “Ghostbusters” (see here for my review) it was with a bit of trepidation I went to see this new film in the series. In this case it is not a reboot but a direct sequel to the original Ghostbusters (1984) and Ghostbusters II (1989) films, completely ignoring the 2016 film…which is a very good thing.

Callie (Carrie Coon), a single mom living with her children teenager Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and the highly intelligent Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) are evicted from their apartment, forced to move into a creepy house in rural Summerville inherited from Callie's reclusive father who recently passed. Trevor initially resistant to the move to the country is immediately attracted to Lucky, a waitress at a local diner, while Phoebe makes friends with ultra-geek Podcast (Logan Kim) who is fascinated with the supernatural. Phoebe becomes more and more fascinated with the mysteries of the house, finding her grandfather's secret lab in the basement and having an unusual chess game with an invisible opponent. Exploring the barn Trevor finds an old hearse painted in white, with unusual equipment on the roof, and licence plate “Ecto 1”. Unusually Summerville has been experiencing daily earthquakes but geologically where there shouldn't be any. This phenomenon has attracted the interest of the hapless summer school teacher and Seismologist Gary (Paul Rudd) who quickly forms a bond with Phoebe who shares his interest in the mystery. As mysterious events continue it becomes apparent the children will have to use the ghost-busting equipment left by their grandfather to save the world…

A worthy successor to the original films, “Afterlife” starts slow but gradually picks up speed to a spectacular, if somewhat over sentimental, finale that directly references the baddie from the first film. It is very much geared to fans of the original films as we quickly realise the family have moved into the home of Egon from the original Ghostbusters team though it is amusing to see the way this is discovered. There are, of course, a few personal issues to be resolved including Callie's bitterness towards her father which proves, of course, to be a pivotal plot point that begins when Phoebe makes a call to the old Ghostbuster's New York hotline in Ray's Occult Bookstore where a one Dr. Raymond “Ray” Stantz (Dan Ackroyd) answers the phone. There is also, of course the issue of why the original Ghostbusters separated and whether those wounds can also be healed.

Those viewers entirely new to the franchise will likely be a bit confused as there is so much fan-service done here but even so the joy and fun is present here and is doubtless very infectious: The wanton destruction caused by the ghost-busting “Proton Packs”, the slime left behind by the “Slimer” (esque) apparition, the complete evil of the bad-guy/entity/God, the devil-dogs chowing down to dog food in a Wal-Mart, the evil, though cute, tiny “Stay Puff” marshmallow men…There is enough of the Bill Murray inspired absurdity here to make it entertaining indeed. Mckenna Grace as Phoebe is absolutely wonderful as she channels her inner Egon while Carrie Coon's Callie is a bit too one-dimensional and disinterested to be completely believable. These performances are somewhat diminished in the final minutes of the film where they are significantly upstaged at the talent on the screen which includes into the credits (and beyond – be sure to stay after they have completed for a final bonus).

The film is very true to it's roots with great care taken in every detail even including the use of similar special effects techniques to the original including the slightly camp stop-motion of the devil-dogs. It is a film that tries hard to rekindle the atmosphere of these old films and largely succeeds.

A fun film that will keep fans happy but perhaps find a new audience in today's more cynical world. A bit slow to start but stick with it as the action cranks up to a dramatic conclusion.

Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2021-11-21

Directed by: Jason Reitman

Studio: Columbia Pictures

Year: 2021

Length: 124 minutes

Genre: Science Fiction