If you’re a fan of 1984’s Ghostbusters, you’re going to want to see Ghostbusters: Afterlife.
The film takes place in 2021 and is a sequel to the two original films, not a remake like the all-female 2016 film is (which I haven’t actually seen, but I also haven’t really heard anything good about, to be honest). By contrast, Afterlife is exactly the sort of modern-day sequel that the Ghostbuster franchise needed to make it relevant today.
An adorable little Stay Puft guy in "Ghostbusters: Afterlife"
Of course, it relies heavily on the nostalgia factor in the same way that Star Wars: The Force Awakened does. To be fair, however, the nostalgia factor is exactly what a fan of the original Ghostbusters movie is going to want to see. The emotions that those nostalgia elements bring up are real and, at least in my case, added to the overall feel-good atmosphere of the movie. Also, despite the nostalgia, the story isn’t a rehash of the 1984 script. Although it does bring back familiar elements, it does so in such a way as to make them feel fresh. Also, and importantly, it takes a moment to explain why there hasn’t been any real ghost phenomenon within the Ghostbusters universe and what the original characters have been up to since the events in Manhattan in 1983.
An image from 1984's "Ghostbusters"
After a mysterious and dramatic opening sequence, the real story of the film sets in and moves a little slowly at first. We meet some new characters and learn how they tie in with the older characters. I don’t want to give anything away, however. The film purposefully takes its time to reveal some elements and, although you suspect them while viewing, I think it’s best to have them unfolded for you the way the script intended for them to be.
In other words, I don’t want to give you any spoilers.
I will say that Paul Rudd was a delightful and humous element in the film, as to be expected. He had the audience chuckling with nearly every scene he was in. He plays a seismologist in a small town in Oklahoma called Summerville, where he’s working as an amusingly terrible summer school teacher while he tries to determine why this sleepy little town in the middle of nowhere is experiencing an unusual number of earthquakes.
Paul Rudd holding a ghost trap in "Ghostbusters: Afterlife"
Rudd’s role is secondary, however, to the real stars of the film – young actors McKenna Grace (The Handmaid’s Tale), Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things), Celeste O’Connor (Freaky), and Logan Kim (Afterlife is his first major film). Wolfhard and Grace play a teenaged brother and sister pair who are forced to move to Summerville after their grandfather, a recluse who owned a rundown farm just outside of town, passes away and leaves everything to their mom (played by Carrie Coon). Although life in this rural Oklahoma town seems dull at first, a rise in paranormal activity soon proves that it’s anything but.
O'Connor, Wolfhard, Kim, and Grace in "Ghostbusters: Afterlife"
The entire film plays homage to the original, both in ways that are expected and ones that weren’t. Of course, it is dedicated to Harold Ramis, who sadly passed away in 2014. Ramis not only starred in the 1984 Ghostbusters as Dr. Egon Spengler but also co-wrote the script for that film with Dan Akroyd. According to the credits, he also helped write the script for Afterlife.
Speaking of the credits, there are two bonus scenes during them that you won’t want to miss. The first one is a minute or so into the credits, and the second is at the very end. That second one, I will say, leaves the door open for another Ghostbusters film sometime in the future.
Overall, I really enjoyed Afterlife. The film was funny when it should be and serious when it needed to be. It just really hit all the right notes for me as someone who has grown up loving Ghostbusters while also doing an excellent job of advancing the franchise for future generations to fall in love with, too.
Angela “LaLa” Rairden is an avid fan of comic books, Star Wars, and most things nerdy. A cosplayer, she loves to attend comic cons dressed as her favorite fictional characters, particularly Harley Quinn. Although her day job is at a grocery store, writing has always been her true calling. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she is currently writing her first novel.