When Sony announced that Jason Reitman was helming a sequel to the first two Ghostbusters movies, most of us expected a passing of the torch focused heavily on the original cast members and catered to the old school fans. After all, the 2016 reboot underperformed and made a lot of fanboys mad, and the studio seemed wary of repeating those mistakes.
The assumption that the new sequel would tread familiar ground also seemed possible when Reitman promised a movie that “follow[ed] the trajectory of the original film” and discussed how much the 1984 classic — which his father directed — meant to him. The signs all pointed toward something recognizable and nostalgic, but now that the trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife has arrived, it’s evident that the director has taken a new approach.
While the trailer features some callbacks to the original movies, for the most part, this film will focus on new characters who will inherit the proton packs and put a stop to the hocus pocus going on around them. The filmmakers clearly aren’t trying to appease the angry mobs either, as the new film features female characters in some prominent roles.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the trailer’s key moments and figure out what’s going on here.
The opening shot instantly establishes this movie as a different beast from its predecessors. Gone is the New York City setting that the franchise is synonymous with. There is not a single skyscraper in sight; instead, we are treated to a scenic view of a canyon as the new crop of characters make their first appearance. Welcome to Oklahoma.
The small-town setting, solemn tone, and teenage characters are reminiscent of Stranger Things and IT, which is only enhanced with the presence of the young actor they all share, Finn Wolfhard, as one of the film’s leads. Ghostbusters: Afterlife is very much a product of the trend of supernatural-themed, small-town-based YA fare that’s popular at the moment. Still, that is not necessarily a bad thing.
There’s been much speculation about which classic Ghostbuster the main family in the movie is related to. This shot confirms that they’re descendants of Egon Spengler (played by the late Harold Ramis in the earlier films). Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) is wearing spectacles similar to the ones he wore back in the day, but the biggest question going into this movie is: what’s the story behind Egon having a kid?
Callie (Carrie Coon) and her family have fallen on hard times, which forces them to move to a spooky farmhouse left to her by her father. The abandoned cars outside suggest that no one has visited this dilapidated property in years, probably because the buildings look like they could collapse at any moment. This farm clearly harbors some secrets.
In this scene, a green glow explodes from a mine shaft. This confirms that something supernatural is afoot, and the earthquakes that the town has been experiencing have nothing to do with Mother Earth. The green vapor also suggests that the kids have stumbled upon a Class 5 specter. Could it be Slimer?
This shot is a fun reference to the 1984 film. As you’ll recall, there is a scene where the team is investigating a haunting in the New York Public Library, and they come across a pile of books stacked on top of each other. Ray (Dan Aykroyd) then notes how the “symmetrical book stacking” is like “the Philadelphia Mass Turbulence of 1947.” Afterward, they discover the old lady ghost in a nearby aisle and run out of the building screaming like big babies.
While this scene is clearly paying homage to the original film, it also shows strong attention to detail. The new movie appears to be adhering to the rules and mythology of its predecessors, and subtle touches like this one are proof of that.
In this scene, Phoebe discovers her grandfather’s underground laboratory. While she’s rummaging through his belongings, she finds some containers holding spores, molds, and fungus. In the 1984 film, the team’s receptionist, Janine (Annie Potts), asks Egon about his hobbies, which prompts him to tell her about his “spores, molds, and fungus” collection. Here is that collection, which further confirms that the house belongs to Egon.
Mr. Grooberson (Paul Rudd) is the gang’s mentor of sorts. He’s familiar with the history of the Ghostbusters and tells the kids about the events that happened in the original film. However, even he is surprised to learn that this ghost trapping device still exists.
The trailer dropped several hints that the family is related to Egon before this moment, but this scene officially confirms it.
The name of this abandoned mining shaft is a reference to Ivo Shandor, the leader of the Cult of Gozer. In the 1984 film, Shandor was the architect of the Central Park West skyscraper that was built to bring the Sumerian god Gozer into the human world. He is also the main antagonist in Ghostbusters: The Video Game.
Like the building in the first movie, this shaft was probably built to summon Gozer. Egon likely moved to this town to keep an eye on things, but could Gozer pose some problems for the kids in Ghostbusters: Afterlife? Let’s hope so.
Finally, the kids get their first taste of ghost-hunting action. If you look closely, you’ll spot a spooky character floating next to the Empress building. Furthermore, the special effects are very similar to the colorful blasts that captured the ghosts in the ’80s films, which is bound to please fans of the franchise.
Ghostbusters: Afterlife opens in theaters on July 10, 2020.