WE HAVE A GHOST
Starring: Jahi Di'Allo Winston, Niles Fitch, Anthony Mackie, Erica Ash, David Harbour, Isabella Russo, and Tig Notaro
Director: Christopher Landon
There is a much better movie hiding somewhere in We Have a Ghost, but it never settles itself enough to find it. Whether it’s the intriguing family drama that isn’t fully explored, the tense mystery thriller that is sidelined for an oh-so-cliché government conspiracy, or the kooky supernatural family comedy with a cringeworthy social media side story, each section has merits amongst its flaws. The charming cast could’ve carried those flaws well if there was a consistent tone, but haphazardly stitching tonal shifts together every 30 minutes halts any momentum the cast generates, accentuating the messy script to the film’s detriment.
Borrowing elements from other bizarre family films such as E.T., Casper, and Beetlejuice, director Christopher Landon’s latest film, We Have a Ghost, treads no new water. While the cast is great, there are far too many ideas at play, never allowing this relatively straightforward tale to set a proper tone. Along with that, the film is far too safe, rarely leaning into its campier elements, nor does it feel like a true mystery. It’s a shame too because there are funny and surprising moments, but they’re just not consistent enough. Ultimately, it has some charm, but it's mostly forgettable.
Director Christopher Landon has stepped away from his horror comedy norm for a more lighthearted and family friendly ghost story with Netflix’s new original film We Have a Ghost. The flick is mostly a mix of Casper and The Haunted Mansion, with a dash of a modern twist, and while the film tries to conjure up some supernatural jokes and scares, they unfortunately fail miserably. The overall story just feels too weak, all the way down to its bones. I expected more of the witty writing Landon delivered with Happy Death Day and Freaky, but this is nothing more than a run-of-the-mill family haunting tale.
With two Happy Death Day movies and Freaky, director Christopher Landon has shown a knack for horror comedy. We Have a Ghost, however, isn't really either of those genres. It has hints of both, but the vibe is more akin to a family film with horror elements, like The Haunted Mansion or Monster House. It certainly takes a while to get going, and the tone changes with rapid succession, but it hits its stride in the latter hour to become a surprisingly moving film. Yes, there’s some modern cringe and things can be a tad ridiculous, but it is a ghost story after all.
For what it is, We Have a Ghost isn’t terrible, but I’ve just outgrown this type of movie. At almost 42-years old, sanitized horror comedies with coming-of-age storylines just aren’t for me anymore. That said, I probably would have really dug this movie as a middle schooler, as it would sit comfortably on the shelf next to similar movies from my youth like Casper and Little Monsters. Everything about it – the humor, the scares, the action – is played too safely, which could make this a solid addition to Halloween movie night with the little ones, but it’s probably skippable for most adults.