Ghost Of A Chance
Tripwire’s senior editor Andrew Colman charges up his proton pack and takes a look at Ghostbusters: Afterlife out in cinemas from Thursday…
Director Jason Reitman’s sequel to his father’s 1984 fan favourite is a rum affair, in as much as it’s more of a nostalgic tribute than a project that aims to recreate the zany, off-kilter and deadpan humour of the original. And regardless of the cinematography and portrayal of small town life in America, it rarely lifts off, playing it far too safe in the hope that unchallenging is better box office (which, to be fair, it is).
Caillie Spengler (Carrie Coon) and her two kids Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and Phoebe (McKenna Grace) are forced to relocate to a semi-derelict farmhouse in rural Oklahoma, which has been left to them by Caillie’s ex-husband and former Ghostbuster Egon. There’s been strange goings-on in that neck of the woods, and yet the townspeople are oblivious regarding their source and seem unconcerned. Before long (well, about seventy-five minutes) we and the protagonists learn that there are maleficent supernatural beings nearby that were pretty much the same as the ones that infested New York 37 years earlier, and that Egon had continued his work since then with all the necessary equipment to extinguish the new threat.
And that’s the extent of it. The kids are cutesy and supremely precocious, and don’t really make up for it with any dry wit (which always helps), and there are a couple of vestigial subplots regarding Trevor and Lucky Domingo (Celeste O’Connor), a girl from the town whose dad (the great Bokeem Woodbine, given precious little to do) is the sheriff. And there’s Paul Rudd as Chad, the nice wholesome teacher who befriends the kids and romances their mum, while grinning and loudly declaiming how great science is. He doesn’t have that much to do either.
It’s all a bit Scooby-Doo meets Stranger Things with some Close Encounters thrown in, the film uncertain whether it’s a horror, adventure or teen movie. Which means it does drag considerably before the final reel when a great deal happens and everything suddenly becomes a Ghostbusters movie. The original film from all those decades ago became a hit simply because it refused to take itself seriously (at all) and therefore caught the zeitgeist in what was obviously a bit of a lightweight year for pop culture. Jason Reitman wanted his follow-up to be a coming of age flick which focused on characterisation, which basically misses the point entirely, as there’s no point in shoehorning anything with such lofty pretensions into what was only ever meant to be a bit of fun. For all of Caillie’s feelings about her late husband, or Chad, or whatever relationships the kids are having, it’s all too superfluous and doesn’t conjure up much in the way of drama or comedy – although there’s certainly a pervasively sinister mood when the action is centred on the house at night.
However there’s that last reel, where the nostalgia factor clicks into overdrive and a reasonably passable denouement. There are some genuinely emotive moments here amidst the whirlwind of SFX, salacious spectres and stygian grotesques, and despite the immersive silliness it’s almost worth the wait. There’s nothing much else beyond that, including the pointless mid and post-credit stings, so grab some popcorn and enjoy (well, a bit).
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Ghost Of A Chance Tripwire’s senior editor Andrew Colman charges up his proton pack and takes a look at Ghostbusters: Afterlife out in cinemas from Thursday… Director: Jason Reitman Stars: Finn Wolfhard, McKenna Grace, Carrie Coon, Logan Kim, Paul Rudd Director Jason Reitman’s sequel to his father’s 1984 fan favourite is a rum affair, in
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