Making a sequel that’s better than the 2016 Ghostbusters “remake” is not exactly hard and is really a low bar for people to easily vault over. Just don’t retread the same plot point and make it charming plus funny. Or if you cannot make it a pure comedy, just change the tone a bit and make it an adventure with some throwbacks here and there.
Buying The Farm
Ghostbusters: Afterlife is basically the latter, but with a bit too many throwbacks to overload the back of a Cadillac with a custom siren. The story revolves around a family who inherits a farmhouse in a dead-ass town. The ghostbusting in the title refers to the fact that the town itself has supernatural nonsense brewing and that the family is related to a renowned member of the Ghostbusters crew and the New York incident in the 80s.
So it’s up to the kids Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) alongside Podcast (Logan Kim) and Lucky (Celeste O’Connor) to figure out the mystery and try to save the day from an impending ghost-related disaster. Except it’s mostly Phoebe and her super-smart brain and love for science doing the heavy lifting while the other kids and their roles fall into place for plot reasons. Still, the show would be unbearable without Mckenna Grace’s delivery and performance; she steals the scene and works well in being the catalyst to the title’s busting and spooky nonsense. The adults fare just as fine with Paul Rudd’s Mr. Grooberson as the teacher in the school the kids are in and Carrie Coon as Phoebe and Trevor’s mother Callie.
A quick glance at IMDB shows that the nostalgia and callbacks really strong in this one since this movie wouldn’t be what it is without the appearances of certain characters in the original Ghostbusters film. Tagline thrown in? Check. An exposition scene featuring one of the main cast of the old film? Check. The reunion that looks very awkward and arguably pathetic without the rose-tinted glasses and with a critical & cynical eye, along with no build-up and hinting to boot? Check.
But really, this film is made for the fans burnt by the 2016 Ghostbusters film and really eat up the old films, cartoons, and video game tie-ins like a religion of sorts. In that regard, the film succeeds on that count, especially with the emotionally-manipulative-but-still-heartfelt-tribute-laced climax. And the post-credits stuff holds some promise of seeing a Ghostbusting film future with possibly new storylines in that franchise
Who Ya Gonna Call?
Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a respectful and lovely fanservice-laden sequel that hits all the right notes and feels. Unless you haven’t seen the first two Ghostbusters films and aren’t in tune with the 80s cartoon series, then all of this is definitely lost on you. The “memberberries” and references can be incredibly heavy-handed to the point of choking the spirit out of you, but the film is meant to cater to that particular demographic who ejaculate in their pants the moment they hear the Ecto-1 siren. And for fans of Stranger Things by association because of Finn Wolfhard’s appearance. I want to say “casting”, but he really doesn’t have much of an arc.
Your enjoyment of the film is reliant on whether you don’t mind the throwbacks and recurring plot elements replacing the film’s second half. Still, I’ve seen worst methods of pandering towards manchildren who love certain sci-fi franchises that denounces change like it’s the devil. The heart of the show is definitely Mckenna Grace complemented by the rest of the cast like Carrie Coon and Paul Rudd, and the many, MANY references and nostalgia bits up to the emotional climax is handled with care. So it’s not all bad, at least to someone like me who can’t get the Ray Park Jr. song out of his custom Spotify playlists and rewatches the classic 1984 film on an annual basis.