Features Film Reviews

“Ghostbusters: Afterlife” spreads the love. Bustin’ makes us feel good

Ghostbusters: Afterlife has garnered acclaim among viewers. This new chapter in the franchise honours and continues the story penned by Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Ivan Reitman; who in 1984 and 1989 made ectoplasms, ghost-hunting and twinkies popular.

Last night, my visit to an Edinburgh multiplex to see Ghostbusters: Afterlife stemmed from my determination to achieve escapism. I hid in the darkness, with the huge screen before my eyes and a bag of dreams. I was a child again, back in 1989, when my dad took me to see the guys bring the Statue of Liberty to life.

It’s easy to relay the enthusiastic tribute to that era, but I will avoid revealing too much about the film. If you decide to see it, I recommend staying until the lights are back on. Do not leave mid end credits.

Afterlife takes place 32 years after Vigo the Carpathian was defeated. Since then, Venkman, Stantz, Zeddemore and Spengler have gone their separate ways and the world seems to have lost interest in ghosts. However, the realm of paranormal manifestations has not stopped brewing deep beneath the Earth’s surface. Precisely in the middle of nowhere; the county of Summerville, Oklahoma.

A mother and her two children move here to this dusty, sleepy, earthquake-stricken small town. Callie (Carrie Coon) inherits a farm from her recently deceased father. It is a strike of luck; she is about to lose her flat in New York, having failed to pay the rent. Her two children, Phoebe (McKenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), follow her reluctantly. The farm, a little stretch farther out of town (and conveniently so) sits in a sorry state.

However, it serves the story well, as cinema goers can see from the very onset. “And I looked as he opened the sixth seal, and behold there was a great earthquake, and the sun became as black as sackcloth, and the moon became as blood. And the seas boiled, and the skies fell,” reads the signs in yellow paint at the farm’s entrance. Inside we can see books stacked in towering piles on the floor; an extensive library of volumes about Sumerians and Hell hounds, and notes on an imminent apocalypse. It is not the typical farm to retire to, one would imagine. Something is lurking in the shadows.

In line with the previous instalments of the franchise, Afterlife presents itself with a linear, straightforward plot. There is comedy, some drama and there are sweeter, romantic moments too. It is an entertaining, touching, and compelling story of intergenerational affection, where Jason Reitman and Gil Kenan have built solid character arcs. The young director gives spectators an innovative directorial approach, blowing a fresher breeze on the film. All the while paying homage to Reitman senior’s vision.

The film expands on the idea that a magnate of the early 1900’s (Ivo Shandor, portrayed by J.K. Simmons) revels on his interests for the occult and builds temples and interdimensional portals in honour of Gozer the Gozerian (Emma Portner). The events in New York in 1984 destroys one of these temples. Another one hides in the depths of Shandor’s mine. The paranormal activities that take place in the Earth’s guts are mistakenly seen by the town as the result of fracking activities in the county.

Phoebe, the main character in this story, is the one we all look at as the incarnation of a renewed ghostbusting affair. During the plot development her personality quickly shapes from an introverted, nerdy, brilliant mind to that of a strong young woman, who takes upon her shoulders the responsibility of clearing her grandfather’s name.

Indeed, she soon discovers that her inclination for science (which her mum struggles to understand), her investigative nature, the fact that she processes emotions and ideas in a different way from many other people, as well as her family name (Spengler), all prove that she is destined to carry on in Egon’s footprints. Her new friend, Podcast (Logan Kim), helps her find the inner voice that guides her in this mission. A very enthusiastic Ghostbusters fan: Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd); their science teacher, as well as a local seismologist, encourages them both.

I ended up watching this film twice such was its beauty. On both occasions, once the lights were back on, I spotted people drying their eyes. Jason Reitman’s creation is one of the many forms affection can take. Indeed Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters 2, the cartoons, the videogames, and now Afterlife, all bring to the fore a shared key element: love. That sort of brotherly love we could see in Egon, Ray, Peter, and Winston and the one we see between Phoebe and Podcast. Also, there is love for those who are no longer with us. In this chapter, everything evolves around the love for Egon, the “Dirt Farmer”. The one who sacrificed his loved ones to try and avert the apocalypse.

Moreover, fiction intertwines with reality bringing viewers the most genuine expression of love for the great irreverent comedic genius and friend; Harold Ramis.

In conclusion, only those who praise Vigo the Carpathian are doomed to fail in shedding a tear. Trusting you are not among them, I am sure you will enjoy Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter!

About the author

Daniele D'Arcangelo