TL;DR – fitting tribute to all things great about the Ghostbusters with a dash of Goonies thrown in.
Review (warning: spoilers)
Over three decades have passed since the supernatural events in New York in which the world was introduced to a quartet of loveable dudes with proton packs that busted ghosts. Many of the events in the first Ghostbusters film should be watched in order to fully appreciate Ghostbusters Afterlife.
The story is set in Summerville, Oklahoma, and although it’s the year 2021, the town is stuck in a bygone time where there is zero mobile phone reception, and there still exists drive-in restaurants where carhops bring fast food to your vehicle on roller skates. By all intents, there’s not much to do for the kids in this town other than to drive up to an abandoned mine and watch the sun set. And though the town is not on a fault line, they seem to be experiencing earthquakes on an almost daily basis.
Little does anyone know (except one particular individual) that the mine was the site of an occultist named Ivo Shandor, who built a temple in order to summon Gozer, an evil god of destruction.
The one individual who knows about what is actually happening is an aged Egon Spengler (Bob Gunton) who has gone to great lengths to set up his dirt farm with a giant ghost trap to trap Gozer once and for all. The film opens with Egon driving madly away from the mine and being chased by an unseen poltergeist after having captured Zuul, or it could be Vinz (it’s not clear which one), who are demigods that serve Gozer. Zuul is the “gatekeeper” and Vinz is the “keymaster” and together they can open a portal between worlds to allow Gozer to come through and wreck destruction. These supernatural beings will be familiar to those who have watched the first Ghostbusters.
Unfortunately for Egon, while he manages to get back to his dirt farm and lures the creature chasing him, the ghost trap fails to activate. Egon hides the trapped ghost under the floorboards and suffers a fatal heart attack after being attacked by the creature.
This event leads to Callie (Carrie Coon) and her two kids, Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and Phoebe (McKenna Grace) to take over residence at the dirt farm. Callie is Egon’s estranged daughter, who has long held the belief that her father abandoned her. Her goal is to move in, clear out all her father’s stuff and sell the place so they can move back to the city.
Again, for the those who have watched the first Ghostbusters, you’ll pick up straight away that Phoebe is a young girl version of her grandfather, Egon. She’s hyper intelligent, wears the same glasses as Egon wore, has the same curly hairstyle and loves science. She is also extremely unusual in that she gets calmer when things get crazier.
And believe me, the crazy hits the fan and sprays it all over the place.
She befriends a boy named Podcast (Logan Kim), who has his own podcast and a fascination for supernatural stories, at summer school along with her teacher, Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd), who is a seismologist and has a fascination for all things Ghostbusters-related (he later has a fascination for Phoebe’s mother, Callie… read on below). The chemistry between Phoebe and Podcast reminded me a lot of the characters in Goonies.
Through the exploration of the dirt farm and the mine, Phoebe and company discover what Egon was doing including his lab where she is guided by Egon’s ghost to fix a proton pack. She also finds the trap hidden under the floorboards, and when they open it, it releases Zuul (or Vinz) who travels back to the temple. In the mine, they find Ivon Shandor has somehow kept himself alive in a cryogenic coffin. Near him is a pit where Gozer attempts to rise out of but is constantly blasted down by three huge proton canons built by Egon. It is these canons that are causing the daily earthquakes.
Phoebe’s brother, Trevor, also discovers and successfully fixes the ol’ Ghostbusters Cadillac (the scene where he goes hooning around the fields is a lot of fun).
All things culminate in a paranormal cataclysm that is triggered when Callie gets possessed by Zuul and Vinz possesses Gary. Together they copulate in hilarious fashion (again, a tribute to the first Ghostbusters where Rick Moranis and Sigourney Weaver’s characters get possessed by the demigods and copulate) in order to open the portal to allow Gozer to come through. Gary/Vinz also destroys the proton canons ensuring Gozer’s arrival.
The final stand off sees the arrival of the original Ghostbusters (Phoebe contacted Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) seeking his help) and combining their efforts with Phoebe, Egon’s ghost, Callie, Trevor and Podcast to take on Gozer.
There’s plenty to love about Ghostbusters Afterlife and director Jason Reitman, who also co-wrote the script with Gil Kenan, have stayed faithful to the first two Ghostbuster films. There has been criticism about the fanservice, but I didn’t think it was overdone.
Even the miniature Stay-Puft Marshmallow men in the Walmart scene attacking Paul Rudd was pretty funny.
But my favourite scene would have to be when Trevor is behind the wheel of the Ghostbusters Cadillac, Podcast is remote controlling a ghost trap on wheels, and Phoebe is in a side gunner seat with proton pack ready and blasting her gun at “Muncher” (a ghost that must be a relative of “Slimer” in the original Ghostbusters, who eats nothing but metal) while they speed along a country road trying to prevent Muncher from reaching the mine and the sun is setting in the background. It’s an iconic scene that left me giddy.
8.5 out of 10