We Have A Ghost

Netflix brings us a new way to look at the haunted house subgenre with the new film, We Have A Ghost, starring David Harbour and Anthony Mackie.

Though the movie is listed as a Horror/Comedy, I think it really reminds me more of those types of movies from the 1980s and 1990s that were the over-the-top paranormal adventures filled with cheesy moments and silly action. A film like The Frighteners comes to mind when comparing the style as well as Beetlejuice, Caspar and even Ghostbusters.

The Presley family was looking for a new start and they moved into a low cost, fixer-upper. Frank (Anthony Mackie) and his wife Melanie (Erica Ash) along with their sons Fulton (Niles Fitch) and Kevin (Jahi Winston) had plenty of issues among them. Kevin was especially saddened by everything that had happened.

Hanging out alone in the attic, Kevin comes across a ghost named Ernest (David Harbour). Despite Ernest’s best effort to scare Kevin away, the teen was unfazed and recorded a video of the ghost on his phone. Kevin and Ernest bonded, despite the fact that Ernest could not speak or remember anything about his life.

When the rest of the family discovered the existence of Ernest, Frank saw an opportunity and posted the video online, eventually sending the social media world into a storm, attracting Dr. Leslie Monroe (Tig Notaro), a washed-up paranormal scientist, who saw her own opportunity to reclaim her lost career.

As I said, We Have A Ghost is a throwback to the action/adventure films of the 80s and 90s where young people were involved and dealt with the supernatural events in a humorous and family friendly manner. Yes, the movie is definitely cheesy and fully plants its figurative tongue in the cheek, but it is entertaining and does take a new spin on the haunted house story.

Jahi Winston does a nice job as Kevin, the lead protagonist and best buddy to Ernest. He has a solid screen presence and I liked him as the focus of the film. David Harbour shows again that he is always awesome. Whether he is Red Guardian, Hellboy, or Hopper from Stranger Things, Harbour gives his best effort in every role. Harbour is even more challenged in his role as Ernest because the ghost is unable to communicate via words and so Harbour is required to use his expressive face and body movements even more to show the personality of Ernest.

There is a mystery of what happened to Ernest, which is interesting. I did not expect the film to go in this direction, but it did make for an exciting third act.

The film may have been too long, clocking in at over two hours. I do think there is an effective version of this film that runs around 100-110 minutes instead.

I was not a fan of the character Dr. Monroe, who I think flip-flopped too quickly after spending most of the film working in one direction. You see a character like the one played by Tig Notaro in many of those older movies so her role was not surprising.

I would have liked to have seen more from Anthony Mackie, though he does do a very good job with the screen time that he gets.

The film does seem to have something to say about the effects of social media and the grasping of fame through likes and viral videos, and how the instant fame can create such chaos in the lives of the people involved.

Again, We Have A Ghost is not a brilliant movie, but it is fun, filled with a feeling of nostalgia for a type of film we haven’t seen for years, and likeable and charismatic actors. Though it is overly long, We Have A Ghost is an entertaining romp with a restless spirit.

3.6 stars

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