Who ya gonna call?! With screenings as early as Wednesday night, millions of fans have flocked to movie theaters to witness the return of some of the most beloved characters in film history. “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” sports a top-notch cast including McKenna Grace, Finn Wolfhard, Carrie Coon, Paul Rudd, Logan Kim, and Celeste O’Connor. In addition to these new cast members, Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, Dan Aykroyd, Annie Potts, and Sigourney Weaver all reprise their roles from the original film. The film is directed by Jason Reitman, taking the reins from his father, Ivan, who directed the first two “Ghostbusters” films.
The film picks up approximately 37 years after the original in Summerville, Oklahoma, where original Ghostbuster Egon Spengler (originally portrayed by the late Harold Ramis) had tracked down the spirit of Gozer. In the wake of Spengler’s death, his house and all its contents are left to his daughter Callie (Coon) and her two children Phoebe (Grace) and Trevor (Wolfhard). We learn that Egon had become estranged from his family and had no involvement in his daughter or grandchildren’s lives, but soon after the family moves in they begin to discover their connection to the legacy of the Ghostbusters.
The performances in the film are fantastic, particularly from young McKenna Grace, who is probably best known for her starring role in the horror film “Annabelle Comes Home”. Grace steals the entire movie from her costars, channeling the dearly departed Harold Ramis in a way that is simply uncanny. Another standout includes newcomer Logan Kim as Podcast, Phoebe’s paranormal-obsessed classmate that joins the siblings on their adventure. Finn Wolfhard delivers a fine performance as always, though the character of Trevor feels very much like a dorkier version of Mike from “Stranger Things”. Surprisingly, Paul Rudd, who was heavily marketed as the star of this picture (no doubt due to his “Ant-Man” status), has only about 10-15 minutes of screentime total. While he brought the laughs as always, he also felt very under-used.
While the legacy cast members all are given their moments to shine, it is important to note that the film does an excellent job of making the story it’s own without having to rely too heavily on the nostalgia factor. While all the nostalgic moments, favorite lines, and the Oscar-nominated theme song are all back, they don’t overcrowd or impede the story at hand. The film feels very different from the original two “Ghostbusters” and is vastly different from the non-canon 2016 reboot. Rather than being once again set in New York City and relying on over-the-top CGI ghost effects to carry the picture, the film makes excellent use of practical effects on a smaller budget and reminds us of what we loved so much about the first “Ghostbusters”. Making use of the younger stars in a smaller setting feels very akin to other popular 80s films as well such as “The Goonies”, “Gremlins”, and “The Lost Boys”.
While not a perfect film, “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” is a sure treat for diehard fans of the franchise and is sure to delight many newcomers as well. Just remember before going in…. “You Ain’t Afraid of No Ghosts!”