Ushering in a new generation with the opportunity to pave their own legacy, director Jason Reitman, son of the original Ghostbusters director Ivan, presents the next chapter in the supernatural franchise, Ghostbusters: Afterlife. In a task the director has professed gave him sleepless nights, due to the weight of expectation and it being his dream to create it since he was six years old, Reitman, along with friend and screenwriter Gil Kenan, has taken the giant leap of moving the franchise into the 21st century with the introduction of a younger cast, aiming to engage a new cohort of ghoul hunters whilst also proving a fourth instalment that is loyal to the die-hard fanbase.
Following the death of her estranged father, struggling single mother Callie (Carrie Coon) decides to relocate her family from New York City to the Summerville, Oklahoma, a baron wasteland where her inheritance lies in the form of an old dust farm. Her son, Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), begins making friends with the local teenagers, but daughter Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) is different in her social awkwardness and high intelligence. It is her inquisitive nature that leads to the discovery of their grandfather’s original connection with the Ghostbusters, but when a supernatural phenomenon relating to the Manhattan Crossrip of 1984 takes place, the children must dust off the proton packs and take on the ghosts to save the world.
Right from the off it is obvious that Trevor and Phoebe are the grandchildren of Egon Spengler (the third Ghostbuster portrayed by the late Harold Ramis) in their straight-shooting personas and dark, frizzy hair, and the Spengler family are plucky and lovable from the start. Ghostbusters: Afterlife is well written with elements of both drama and humour, as it explores the themes of family relationships, social anxieties and friendship. These are all encapsulated and carried off not least by the sensational performance from 15-year-old Mckenna Grace, who truly is a shining star and whose leading portrayal is the apex of the entire movie.
The rest of the cast perform capably with what they are given, Wolfhard once more branching out from his Stranger Things notoriety, and Paul Rudd is a delight as science-loving Gary, doing what he does best but also proving to be a vital cog in the narrative. The film loses out by criminally underusing Coon, who is undervalued in her role, swallowed up mostly in her bitterness towards her father, but she still appears to have a whale of a time in some sequences alongside Rudd.
The score, composed by Eric Steelberg, is also a welcome addition, accompanying some strikingly moving moments as it begins to swell, breaking through to the surface as the drama unfolds. Director Jason Reitman captures the heart of Ghostbusters and although that should come as no surprise, given who he is, this latest instalment is certainly leagues better than the 2016 reboot, tackling family issues and deep bonds that have been shredded by past events with a young and exciting cast.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife is released in select cinemas on 18th November 2021.
Watch the trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife here: