Ghostbusters: Afterlife Trailer Breakdown

Ghostbusters has certainly had an interesting lifespan as a franchise. The 1984 film is an absolute classic, showcasing spooky paranormal fun, big laughs, and one of Bill Murray’s best roles. The unique special effects, witty dialogue, and some of the most memorable and iconic scenes in film history have solidified it as a pop culture staple. It has even been inducted into the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress. Naturally, it received a sequel in 1989 which has gone through trends of people disliking and liking it. A third installment in the franchise was in development hell for what seems like forever, with Dan Aykroyd writing scripts and Bill Murray constantly turning them down. 2016 saw a rather unsuccessful reboot of the series with new actors, characters, and director that didn’t connect to the originals regarding story. 

Now, the original Ghostbusters canon is finally being revisited with the upcoming Ghostbusters: Afterlife. This long-awaited sequel is directed by Jason Reitman, son of the original director Ivan Reitman, and will see the return of classic characters like Peter Venkman, Dana Barrett, and more. The final trailer has been revealed for Ghostbusters: Afterlife, giving fans the first glimpses of new and returning characters, spooky specters, and of course the proton packs and other ghost-catching gear. Without further ado, let’s dive into all the details this trailer has to offer, and be careful not to cross the streams. 

The trailer begins with some immediate contrasts to the original films. For one, it opens on a small quiet town rather than the always-busy New York City. The tone is also rather somber for a sequel to comedy movies. 

Carrie Coon and Paul Rudd discuss the difficulties of parenting an awkward teen who shuts herself off from her mom. As seen in a previous trailer, Paul Rudd appears to be playing the kids’ teacher, so this must be some sort of meeting between a parent and a teacher regarding the kids in some way. We also see that one of the kids, Phoebe, is bullied at school to make the audience immediately empathise with her. 

It’s also mentioned that this mom and her kids just moved to this small town, so Phoebe probably feels like even more of an outsider than usual. 

While exploring what is likely their new house, Phoebe pulls up some false floor boards to find the instantly-recognizable Ghost Trap from the original movies. Their new house must have belonged to one of the Ghostbusters. Could other Ghostbuster gear be hidden here as well? 

Trevor, played by Finn Wolfhard, hangs out with some of his new classmates in an empty desert. They really are in the middle of nowhere in this small town of Summerville. He explains to his friends that his family is completely broke and that his grandfather left them a creepy old house. That explains why his family moved here, but does this mean that he’s the grandson of an original Ghostbuster? 

The next couple of shots of the trailer must have been included to make viewers cry. There’s a closeup of the original Ghostbusters team in front of their old firehouse headquarters in New York City. A very familiar voice says “Your father wasn’t much of a homemaker.” It’s then revealed that this voice belongs to none other than Janine Melnitz, once again played by Annie Potts. This pretty much confirms that Egon Spengler and Janine actually ended up together and had a family, and that Phoebe and Trevor are their grandkids. Considering that Harold Ramis is no longer with us in real life, this feels especially sad. There likely won’t be a dry eye in the theater during this scene. 

Then, when discussing what Egon left his family, Phoebe pulls back a tarp revealing the Ghostbusters logo on a vehicle. That’s right, the Ecto-1 is being kept here as well. The trailer could have stopped here and left fans eager to see the movie, but it shows a lot more. 

The kids then take the Ecto-1 for a joyride across the empty nearby fields. I doubt they’re old enough to drive, at least not without an adult, so this will likely lead to some hilarious hijinx. 

Dark clouds form overhead and the ground begins to shake. Paul Rudd explains that “Somehow a town with no faultlines is shaking on a daily basis.” It’s safe to assume this is because of paranormal activity. It’s a good thing someone uncovered ghost-catching equipment just in time! 

We once again see Trevor and his new friends hanging out by a well or mine in the middle of nowhere. A very brief glimpse of what might be a ghost launches itself from the ground below them. 

Phoebe replies to Paul Rudd’s faultline comment by saying “maybe it’s the apocalypse.” This not only fits the original film in terms of theme (due to the speech that Winston Zeddemore gives to Ray Stantz), but it’s basically what Gozer wants to accomplish as well. Could Gozer be making a comeback, or is there a new ghostly threat this time around? 

Phoebe points out something very intriguing. She says that “Egon came out here for a reason.” Did he somehow know about ghost activity in this area? Did he intend on stopping it on his own, or did he hope to get the whole crew together to help out?

Phoebe watches a YouTube video of the commercial the original Ghostbusters crew made in the first movie. Perhaps she wants to know more about her grandfather. The main problem with that, however, is the same problem folks had with Ghostbusters II. Why don’t people seem to know about ghosts or the Ghostbusters? They were catching ghosts all over New York City and fought a giant marshmallow man that tons of people saw. Someone had to have gotten a picture of it at least. The world should be aware of the events that occurred back in 1984. 

The next shot is dark and hard to make out, but the P.K.E. Meter is being used, probably to locate the ghosts like in the first film. It’s genuinely exciting to get gradual glimpses at the classic equipment used by the original Ghostbusters. 

In one of the most entertaining and interesting shots of the trailer, Paul Rudd, whose character’s name is Mr. Grooberson but will likely be called “Paul Rudd” by most audiences, stares in amazement at a grocery store shelf. Miniature Stay Puft marshmallow men come to life to wreak havoc like little Gremlins. Is this an indicator that Gozer is returning since she has interacted with the mascot before, or do ghosts just really like marshmallows? Either way, it’s a fun callback that also finally shows that at least some comedy will be present and that it’s not all somber like the trailer’s tone suggests. 

Trevor investigates the mine where the ghost shot up from previously in the trailer. Something clearly grabs his attention, but before we see what it is, a terrifying stormcloud forms in the sky and lightning strikes. Not only is it neat that the effects look similar to those from the 80s that still stand out today, but this storm cloud looks exactly like the one that formed over Dana’s apartment building when the Gatekeeper and Keymaster finally came together. It certainly seems like Gozer is making her grand return, which might be really cool to see. However, it’s unfortunate that there wouldn’t be a new ghostly threat to see. There are literally infinite ghosts, so it would be nice to see how they would tackle something new.

The kids continue their investigation into what is likely an abandoned mine when a creepy growl is heard. It might be a safe bet that the growl belongs to the Terror Dogs that were first introduced to the world in 1984. This is further indication that Gozer is the villain once again. 

A portal opens and balls of light shoot out of it, completely recreating the look of the classic special effects. These effects have always looked unique and aesthetically pleasing, so it’s nice to see them again here. Something reaches out of the portal, and if you pause at just the right moment, it’s pretty clearly Gozer’s arm. The sleeve and the top of the hair are identical. Again, it would have been nice to see a new baddie, but it’s cool to see this classic antagonist again. It’s a nice way to tie it into the classic films while also getting viewers to wonder how these kids will stop this almighty being from destroying the world. 

The ground breaks open and ghosts come pouring out all over the town. This is likely the third act, and it looks incredibly exciting. A zombie approaches a store clerk while ghosts fly by the window. It resembles a similar scene from the original movie. Hopefully there’s not too many similarities and this film does enough to make itself feel like its own entity. 

Paul Rudd says “it’s like the Walking Dead.” Assuming this is a reference to the comic or TV series, then it’s a fun and realistic way to further establish that this movie takes place during the modern day. 

A horrifying werewolf-looking ghost hovers over Paul Rudd. This ghost doesn’t exactly match the look of the classic ones, but it’s a genuinely awesome design and looks like a true threat. It shatters any window it flies by, showing that it’s actually harmful, while the likes of Slimer wasn’t. 

A Terror Dog chases Paul Rudd out of a Walmart product placement. Gozer’s plan is likely the same this time around: use the Gatekeeper and Keymaster to open the door to the apocalypse. Instead of Louis Tully, it seems that they’ll have their sights set on Paul Rudd this time around. This probably means that the kids’ mom is in trouble since she’ll likely be the other candidate to be hunted by a Terror Dog. 

The iconic Ecto-1 siren blares as the kids haphazardly drive it down the town’s main streets. There are some additions to it this time, though. Phoebe rides on an external seat as she fires the proton pack at a ghost they’re chasing. A remote controlled Ghost Trap on wheels then speeds after the ghost. There seems to be quite a few upgrades to the familiar tech, which should be fun to see (and sell toys of). Perhaps Phoebe and Trevor are tech wizzes. It’s also worth noting that this particular ghost looks a lot closer to those seen in the classic films than that scary werewolf specter. 

The trailer ends on a fantastic bit of fanservice. They call the phone number provided on the old commercial (that Paul Rudd is now watching on YouTube with Phoebe and one of her classmates). The phone rings in what looks to be Ray’s Occult, the occult shop that Ray opened in Ghostbusters II, which means that this film doesn’t retcon the 1989 sequel like other modern reboots, like 2018’s Halloween, have done with their respective franchises. 

Dan Aykroyd’s Ray Stantz answers the phone to simply say “We’re closed.” Only his arm is seen, but it’s an entertaining way to tease that more classic characters will make appearances. Perhaps he’s a bit grumpy because of how the world treated the Ghostbusters and has closed himself off from the world a bit. Thankfully they didn’t show too much of the classic characters and only Janine and Ray’s arm were shown. It’ll be more exciting to see them for the first time (in a long time) on the big screen. 

Overall, this is a phenomenal trailer and is enough to get both classic Ghostbusters fans and newcomers excited. It tells us what the story is about and shows some of the ghost-catching action without necessarily showing too much of it. The trailer primarily focuses on somber tones, so hopefully this film is just as comedic as its predecessors. It appears that it will, thanks to the talents of Paul Rudd, but only time will tell. It also looks like there’s a lot returning from the first film. It’s concerning that this story will rely too much on bringing back familiar elements than adding to the Ghostbusters lore. The equipment upgrades and werewolf ghost look to be welcome additions, though. 

It’s truly exciting to finally get to see what happened with iconic characters that many of us grew up with while also getting to experience a new coming of age story. Hopefully it’s not too painful of a wait until the November 19th theatrical release date. 

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