The Ghostbusters are back.
“Ghostbusters: Afterlife” is a direct continuation of the originals “Ghostbusters” (1984) and “Ghostbusters II” (1989). Almost everything related to the franchise, from “The Real Ghostbusters” animated series to 2016’s female-led “Ghostbusters: Answer the Call,” has been dropped. (There is, oddly enough, a passing reference to a “bug-eye ghost” toy, inspired by the animated series). Instead of four dudes with proton packs trying to make it in the big city (and the “slobs versus snobs” dynamic that was so popular in 1980s studio comedies), “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” aims for something more sweet and more emotionally dynamic.
“Ghostbusters: Afterlife” centers on a family led by Callie (Carrie Coon). Facing financial insecurity as a single mother, she decides to move her family to the dusty farmhouse that once belonged to her eccentric scientist father. He died recently and left her the farm and not much else. His two children, Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), each deal with their new surroundings differently. And together, the family, along with Phoebe’s goofy science teacher Gary (Paul Rudd), are drawn into a mystery far more supernatural than either of them could have imagined. There are a number of callbacks to the original films, which lead to a dramatic and moving climax. So what happens at the end of “Ghostbusters: Afterlife?” Keep reading to find out.
MAggressive spoilers for “Ghostbusters: Afterlife” follow. Seriously – turn back now!
“Ghostbusters: Afterlife” is closely tied to the first “Ghostbusters,” so much so that the characters in the new film face many of the same supernatural entities that Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, and Harold Ramis faced. first time. Specifically, these kids are up against the forces of Gozer, with major characters transformed into Gatekeeper and Keymaster, just like before. Ultimately, Spengler had moved to the middle of nowhere in an effort to contain the ancient evil conjured up by Ivo Shandor, a character mentioned in the original film who is given more depth and dimension here. At the end of “Ghostbusters: Afterlife,” the containment unit Spengler had designed to keep evil at bay has been compromised, and all manner of badness begins to leak out.
During the third act, there are a number of shocking revelations: first, Shandor appears, in the flesh, played by Jason Reitman, JK Simmons. (He somehow extended his life by living in a glass tomb near the epicenter of supernatural power.) Hilariously, he is murdered quickly after finally presenting himself to Gozer, the ageless demonic deity he worships. for decades. Gozer, who appeared in the original film wearing one of the most 1980s costumes ever, is this time played by none other than actress and filmmaker Olivia Wilde. As our fearless young Ghostbusters zap her physical form, leaving only her ghostly essence behind (and return Carrie Coon to human form, rocking Sigourney Weaver’s golden dress from the original film, after a brief terror hound transformation) , she returns soon in full Force. Putting Gozer down for good is going to take more than four kids in combination.
The old Ghostbusters return
Earlier in the movie, Phoebe and the kids end up in jail. She asks for his phone call. The sheriff (played by the great, underutilized Bokeem Woodbine) asks, “Who are you going to call?” So, of course, Phoebe calls Ray’s Occult Books and talks to Ray Stanz (Dan Aykroyd) himself. Phoebe gets every last detail — Spengler is dead, she’s in her creepy old house, and he was battling an ancient evil — before the sheriff disconnects her.
So when the tokens run out and the odds are no longer in favor of our new Ghostbusters (to complete the crew, Lucky, Trevor’s crush, played by Celeste O’Connor, and Phoebe’s friend, Podcast, played by Logan Kim), the surviving Legacy Ghostbusters introduce themselves – Bill Murray’s Peter Venkman, Aykroyd’s Stanz and Ernie Hudson’s Winston Zeddemore. It’s a big moment; the actors magnificently embody the roles that made them famous and their banter is there. (Murray’s whole thing is that he and Gozer were dating but had to call it off.)
But it seems Gozer’s power is still beyond what former Ghostbusters can handle. That’s when the new recruits get their gear back in working order and get back at the undead villain. And while it’s all very cool, there’s an unexpected emotional component when Spengler de Ramis, via computer-generated magic. He keeps Phoebe’s proton pack steady, as they lay a giant trap for Gozer. Older Ghostbusters join in and can finally put an end to this evil. It’s a wonderfully exciting moment (both times we’ve seen the film with an audience, the crowd erupted in applause) but also incredibly touching. There is a moment when the older Ghostbusters look and there is a moment of catharsis, understanding and acceptance. Instead of ending the film with a fiery moment of spectacle like the original, this one gives way to a calmer, more human scene.
There’s one more thing before the credits roll (and Ray Parker Jr’s iconic and legally dubious theme song kicks in).
After Callie shares a warm hug with her late father, the camera pans to a starry sky, above the Oklahoma farm he once owned. Two words are engraved on the screen: “For Harold”. Then the camera pans down. Instead of rural Oklahoma, it’s now modern-day Manhattan, and the ECTO-1 crosses the bridge with its distinctive sirens. Did Winston keep his promise to the battered old car that he would bring it back and fix it? What does this mean for future installments of the franchise? All of this remains to be seen.