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TLO Film Review: Ghostbusters: Afterlife

5:15 AM EST on November 22, 2021

The newest film in the Ghostbusters franchise takes place in small town Oklahoma. I’m as surprised as you are.

But, what’s even more surprising is just how good it is, respectfully bringing the series back to cinematic prominence generations later while introducing a youthful new team that completely holds their own. These are the hardest things for a decades-old film series to not only attain but actually hold on to, and Ghostbusters: Afterlife amiably does that.

In a decrepit farmhouse in Summerville, Oklahoma, aging ghost-hunter and local weirdo Egon Spengler is killed by, apparently, a free-floating apparition. This causes his estranged family to inherit the house and, almost immediately, granddaughter Phoebe (Mckenna Grace in a star-making role)—who has inherited Egon’s penchant for outré science—comes in contact with his ghost and he helps her find his former ghostbusting tools.

As she finds out about her true lineage from teacher and former scientist Gary (the delightful Paul Rudd), along with her only friend Podcast (Logan Kim), they come to learn that the town, which has been experiencing strange earthquakes—nothing new for many Oklahomans—is the former home to Ivo Shandor, the leader of a cult worshipping the ancient god Gozer the Gozerian.

Fans of the original 1984 film will understand that.

With her brother (Finn Wolfhard) and his would-be girlfriend Lucky (Celeste O’Connor) in tow, they suit up and try to bring Egon’s final ghostbusting act to life, but not before receiving help from the original Ghostbusters—Ray (Dan Aykroyd), Peter (Bill Murray), and Winston (Ernie Hudson), as well as the spectral Egon (the late Harold Ramis)—in an attempt to bring Gozer down.

Even though it was filmed in Alberta, Canada, it gets plenty about Oklahoma right—in particular the Walmart set-piece featuring thousands of tiny Stay Puft marshmallows happily mutilating one another—and a few things Hollywood right—in particular, the black sheriff which, if you know small town Oklahoma, that’s probably not going to happen in, at least, our lifetimes—but, overall, it does a good job of capturing that down-home feeling of near ostracization that many of these towns seem to carry, especially for strangers.

What truly surprised me, however, was the amount of pure emotion that comes through in the climax when Egon materializes to help his granddaughter—it’s a mixture of absolute joy and bittersweet sorrow, a moment when the universal wish that our departed loved ones are watching over us come to cinematic life; it was hard not to silently cry in that scene.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife is proof that there definitely is life after death for this franchise and, honestly, I hope there’s a few more in the containment unit, with a future installment maybe taking place in Oklahoma City but, of course, filmed in Toronto.

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Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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