Ghostbusters: Afterlife ironically breathes new life into the beloved franchise. I say ironically as the many swings and misses attempting to revive Classics from yesteryear over the past decade or so are too heavily reliant on nostalgia and stunt the potential in forging a new narrative capable of standing on its own.
Afterlife finds a sweet spot that’s far from overbearing Easter eggs and Nostalgia porn and sets the stage for contemporary heroes just as cool as what we grew up on, but who are better reflective of our contemporary world.
Gone are the days where spooks, specters, and ghosts would lead the weary to call the Ghostbusters. The events of NY from back in the 80’s are a mere fever dream to the country, but something spooky is itching to burst out of a small town in the middle of nowhere. A single mom and her two kids find themselves in a quaking dust bowl taking on the estate of her estranged and eccentric father who recently passed. Together they discover this town is hiding something, this farm is more than what it seems, her dad is more than just a nut, and her kids have the courage to stare malevolent forces in the eye.
Jason Reitman champions a story he literally grew up with and tenderly pays homage to the camp and characters of this movie’s predecessor finding a balance between the weird and the wonderful. It’s a simple story executed tremendously well. Long overdue sequels often stumble to recapture the magic of the past. Afterlife charts it’s own path on the back of a script that knows where it came from and where it’s going. We’re not waiting around for our fearsome foursome to come back to save the day because we fall for a new rag tag bunch filled to the brim with chops and charm to do it ON THEIR OWN!
This cast is fantastic. McKenna Grace is wonderful and has this subtle yet commanding presence that plays to her dry sensibilities of her character and is still relatable. Paul Rudd, Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhart , Celeste Jones and the rest of the ensemble bring this world and small town to life providing lively characters, a connective tissue of folks looking to belong to something or with someone.
The first two acts of this film sell a mature Paranormal Action Comedy led by kids who understand the world they’re in and do their best to save it regardless of how it treats them. While the third act falls victim to some of the poorer penchants of Blockbuster Climaxes that come together a bit too convenient too quickly I was won over so much by all the good will earned earlier I didn’t even mind and neither will general audiences because this movie is just so much damn fun.
Reitmans fully realized vision on screen delivers the most immersive viewing experience of the year. As I’m watching, I think to myself, “wow this has got to be what the theme park ride of this film would feel like.”
The sound mix is incredible and heightens the action throughout the movie. I never knew the sound of a ghost trap could feel so cool.
The action is amplified, the laughs are big, and the tears will fall as this film hits you in the gut with a cinematically perfect honoring of Harold Ramis.
There’s no telling what happens next but, in the hands of Reitman and on the backs of this ensemble, the answer to an all important question is clear.
“Who you gonna call________?