Paul Rudd and Finn Wolfhard ain’t afraid of no ghosts in the first trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife. OK, so they’re a little afraid, but that isn’t stopping them from saving their small town with help from the rest of the movie’s stellar cast, including Mckenna Grace and Carrie Coon. What’s most surprising about the first look at the upcoming blockbuster isn’t that the core characters are new to this whole ghostbusting business, it’s that the trailer is giving off serious Stranger Things vibes that have nothing to do with Wolfhard being part of the cast.
Most notably, the franchise’s usual New York City setting is traded in for a middle of nowhere town where a single mother (Coon) moves with her two kids Trevor (Wolfhard) and Phoebe (Grace) to a decrepit mansion. The small town instantly feels reminiscent of Hawkins, Indiana despite the movie’s modern day setting. And that’s thanks in large part to Rudd’s Mr. Grooberson, a teacher who is all about opening curiosity doors ala Mr. Clarke.
The trailer makes it clear that although the kids are descendants of an actual Ghostbuster, their guide through the world of ghost traps and ectoplasm is going to be their nerdy science teacher. He even makes a very Joyce-esque observation about the town’s regular shaking, noting that it occurs despite the town not being near any fault lines or other natural causes to create an earthquake-like phenomenon (think the magnets losing their ability to magnetize in Season 3). "Somehow, a town that isn’t anywhere near a tectonic plate, that has no fault lines, no frakking, no loud music even, is shaking on a daily basis," Mr. Grooberson tells Phoebe.
Despite its similarities to Stranger Things (which makes sense, since Stranger Things is influenced in part by the original Ghostbusters), the Ghostbusters: Afterlife trailer is clearly a descendant of the original franchise. Even as it introduces a new generation of Ghostbusters, it pays homage to the films that came before with plenty of Easter eggs. From the hint that Phoebe and Trevor’s grandfather was Egon Spengler (played by the late Harold Ramis in the original film) to a line from the original movie showing up via voiceover — Bill Murray intoning "Call it fate, call it luck, call it karma… I believe everything happens for a reason" — this is a Ghostbusters movie through and through.
This movie isn’t recreating the original, it’s expanding on the lore and taking the franchise in a new direction. That’s fitting since it’s directed by indie favorite Jason Reitman, the son of Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman. Much like Phoebe and Trevor, the history of the Ghostbusters is personal for Reitman, and it shows in the loving way he tucks homages to the original into nearly every frame of the trailer.
At a Ghostbusters fan event in June, Reitman shared why he felt the need to try his hand at a blockbuster after building his career around small-scale movies. "I did not expect to be making a new Ghostbusters movie," he said, per Cinema Blend. "I thought I was going to be this Indie dude who made Sundance movies. And then this character came to me. She was a 12-year-old girl. I didn’t know who she was or why she popped into my head, but I saw her with a proton pack in her hand. And I wrote this story."
And on July 10, 2020, fans are going to get to see that story unfold onscreen, right down to Phoebe rocking a proton pack.
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