When a single mom and her two kids arrive in a small town, they begin to discover their connection to the original Ghostbusters and the secret legacy their grandfather left behind.
Ghostbusters returns to cinemas with its new instalment ‘Afterlife’, this time not as a reboot but as a new installment to the series that started in 1984 and continued with its second film in 1989. This time around Jason Reitman is at the helm following up on his father’s previous works which is poetic given the strong themes of family which underpin Afterlife.
Picking up many years after the previous films, Afterlife follows a single mum with her teenage son Trevor and young daughter Phoebe as they relocate to the country town of Summerville where they are sorting out the family inheritance which happens to be a creepy old farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. Shortly after their arrival, spooky things start to happen as an adventure unfolds for the kids leading them on an unexpected path of ancestral discovery.
While Afterlife firmly plants its feet in the franchise’s origins, it largely stands independently on its own merits. Its summer holiday kid’s adventure tone stands it apart from Ghostbusters 1 and 2 as the kids led adventure unravels a mystery which threatens the town. The film largely rests on Phoebe’s shoulders as the central character that connects with the past and also represents the future, she’s a weird, but likeable character who is a joy to watch. Trevor is at the center of a more generic teenager story as he’s working through his own life’s upheaval and looking to try fit in socially and not be awkward in front of the girl that he likes.
There’s a lot to like about this film, it’s a tale of family drama, it’s also a mystery, it’s also funny, and with all that said there is room for lots of paranormal stuff going on as well. McKenna Grace is delightful to watch and the success of the film largely rests on her shoulders. Her performance will have audiences hanging off every second of her screen time and she is well supported by Finn Wolfhard and Logan Kim with strong chemistry onscreen that holds everything together. The younger cast are also well supported through Paul Rudd and Carrie Coon, notwithstanding that Carrie doesn’t have a great deal to do in the film.
It’s a great looking film, and while its special effects heavy Reitman is leaning into a lot of practical effects as well as computer generated visuals which all works together with great results, demonstrating movies can still look good even when they don’t cost $200 million.
By the end of the film however it does take a few interesting turns, for something that ends up working so well and independent of its past it then takes a significant u-turn in its third act to bring all that historical grounding (or baggage) front and center it what feels pretty rushed.
It’s a conflicting feeling because as a forty-something audience member those late callbacks are meant for me and my peers and I did love it, but by the same token it’s also to the detriment of the film as by the third act it was perfectly capable of delivering what is arguably a more natural and satisfying conclusion without leaning so heavily into the past.
Wherever you land with the ending however, Afterlife leaves audiences with plenty to talk about. I enjoyed it and give it a 7 out of 10. Ghostbusters Afterlife will be released on 1 January 2022.