Directed by Jason Reitman
(2021, Columbia Pictures/BRON Studios/Ghostcorps)
For many years, fans of the original Ghostbusters have been asking if there would be a sequel. Sure, there was the sequel that dare not be mentioned, Ghostbusters 2 in 1988, but that just didn’t do it.
At one point, the next rumored movie in the franchise seemed to be getting some traction with the original team (without Harold Ramis who sadly passed in 2014) but then then the ghost in the machine had other ideas and we got Ghostbusters (2016) with an all-female cast including Melissa McCarthey, Kristin Wiig, Kate McKinnon, and Leslie Jones. Not only did fans seem to not have their needs satiated by this version of the Ghostbusters story, but they also seemed to have outright disdain for it.
Cut to 2021, and here we are with the long awaited “sequel,” Ghostbusters: Afterlife.
The movie picks up decades after the original team took up shop in the now infamous fire station, where upon Dr. Egon Spengler’s daughter and her two children find themselves in dire straits having been evicted from their apartment and needing a place to stay.
Lo and behold they head to the farmhouse in a small out-of-the-way town that their father and grandfather, respectively, left to them.
Well, wouldn’t you know it, once they arrive, they find eerie and spooky things are afoot – the town shakes on a regular basis for some inexplicable reason, there is an abandoned mine that just happens to draw miners to their deaths, and Egon’s science-minded granddaughter (who is the spitting image of Egon) starts to investigate into it all, something everyone in the town seemed to never do before her arrival.
The script really focuses on the kids piecing together why Egon moved to this small town and why, you know, the town is shaking. The whole narrative has a very “Stranger Things” feel.
If you are picking up on some sarcasm, you would be correct. The story is a throwaway, it feels called-in, and cheap.
It is like the story you would get on a Ghostbusters theme park ride – something thin and easy to follow so you can just enjoy the ride but nothing you remember after getting off.
It is truly disappointing on many levels – the one that stands out the most for me is that one of the three writers of the film is none other than original writer, Dan Aykroyd. He is usually a great screen writer and has been very protective of the Ghostbusters franchise. It feels off to criticize him here because he is a great actor who has given us many great scripts, but this just isn’t one of them.
The other disappointment is obviously that fans waited over 30 years for this next installment, and it landed dead on arrival. If that was to be the case, I wish they had just left the whole thing alone and let the original film (again, not mentioning Ghostbuster 2) alone to not demean its legacy.
There are definitely payoffs in the movie that harken back to the original film and pull at your nostalgia but that just isn’t enough. It is a bit of fun but feels manipulative to cover up the lack of good story.
To capitalize on the success of an iconic movie, one must tread carefully. It reminds me of the disaster of a sequel, “Coming 2 America” that was released earlier this year. Fans waited decades only to be met with garbage. All of these sorts of sequels will, of course, make a ton of money, but loyal fans have an allegiance to these stories and these characters. They are movies that have been part of their cinematic DNA for many years and they most certainly deserve something better than pure slime.