Director: Jason Reitman
Stars: McKenna Grace, Finn Wolfhard, Carrie Coon, Paul Rudd, Celeste O’Connor, Logan Kim
It goes off the rails in the last act, but this sequel to 1984’s ‘Ghostbusters’ (but not its 1989 sequel evidently), helmed by the son of the original’s director, is at least superior to the grimly unfunny 2016 reboot.
A brief prologue shows a familiar face (or silhouette anyway) being dispatched by a supernatural force. It is revealed that he was the grandfather to a cash-strapped Chicago family of three, single mum Callie (Coon), and her kids, awkward Trevor (Wolfhard) and science buff Phoebe (Grace), and that he has bequeathed them a rickety old house in Oklahoma. This change of location from New York signals a healthy change of direction which is initially borne out.
As the family discovers the secrets of their grandfather’s past, the town suffers a series of earthquakes. Meanwhile Phoebe has befriended the precocious vlogger ‘Podcast’ (an amusing Kim) as well as the rather disreputable science teacher and seismologist Chad Grooberson (Rudd). Trevor has taken a job at a local burger joint to get close to his crush Lucky (O’Connor). When the family experience a series of supernatural visitations, their connection to the original Ghostbusters team is revealed, so the siblings, along with Lucky and Podcast, repair the discovered Ecto-1 Cadillac and go into business.
The picture potters along amiably enough bolstered by an appealing lead performance by Grace as Phoebe, while the presence of Wolfhard underlines this excursion’s debt to TV’s ‘Stranger Things’. Long-time Reitman cinematographer Eric Steelberg’s golden-hued rendering of the Oklahoma environs is occasionally lovely, and a crosstown ghost chase in the souped-up Ecto-1, replete with extending gunner seat and remote-controlled mobile ghost trap, is rollicking good fun.
Sadly the picture descends into out-and-out lazy fan service in thecloying third act
with scenes and plot points from the original not so much riffed on as replicated entirely with very minor tweaks. One reappearance intended to tug at the heart strings actually feels pretty tawdry. A mid-credits sequence will have all but the most die-hard obsessives questioning the need for its existence.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife is released on 18th November
Follow David on @DWill_Crackfilm