‘Ghostbusters: Afterlife’ Missed a HUGE Opportunity at World-Building

in Movies & TV

McKenna Grace as Phoebe in Ghostbusters Afterlife

Credit: Sony Pictures via YouTube

Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021) was a long time coming, and while it probably isn’t the sequel many Ghostbusters fans expected or even wanted, it was both a critical and financial success. In fact, so much so, that Sony Pictures has already green-lit a brand-new sequel.

There are, however, many things about Ghostbusters: Afterlife that didn’t necessarily go down too well with fans, which largely comes down to the overuse of nostalgia and the fact that the film retreads similar plot points and utilizes already exhausted Ghostbusters villains.

Ghostbusters Afterlife
Credit: Sony Pictures

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Nevertheless, compared to the 2016 reboot Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (2016), the 2021 sequel has done incredibly well on all fronts. What remains to be seen now is how the next Ghostbusters movie will expand upon the universe established in the main Ghostbusters series.

And though it is yet to be confirmed that the fifth film in the Ghostbusters franchise will indeed be a follow-up, we think that Ghostbusters: Afterlife missed a huge opportunity at world-building, something that appears to have been so very easily overlooked by the filmmakers.

Ghostbusters Afterlife
Credit: Sony Pictures

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Ghostbusters: Afterlife picks up some 30 years after the events of Ghostbusters II (1989), following Callie (Carrie Coon) and her two children Phoebe (McKenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) as they relocate to Summerville, Oklahoma with next to nothing to their name.

There, they reluctantly move into an old farmhouse left to them by the recently deceased Egon Spengler (who is played by the late Harold Ramis in the original two films). Unaware as to who her grandfather was, Phoebe discovers all the Ghostbusters equipment in the basement.

Ghostbusters Afterlife
Credit: Sony Pictures

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Meanwhile, something strange is going on in their new neighborhood, as a dark force deep inside the Summerville mines begins to stir. Using the Ghostbusters’ gear, Phoebe and Trevor team up with local kids Podcast (Logan Kim) and Lucky (Celeste O’Conner) to save the day.

Towards the end of the film, when the new Ghostbusters are battling Gozer the Gozerian (Olivia Wilde), the original Ghostbusters show up to lend a helping hand. Yes, Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson), and Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) make a comeback.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Credit: Sony Pictures

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While many will have you believe that Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a direct sequel to Ghostbusters (1984), it isn’t. In fact, it’ more of a spin-off, which is in no way a bad thing. And we’re not convinced that a film focusing entirely on the original characters would have even worked.

But we also think that the film could have made better use of one of these three cameos. The scene in which Peter, Winston, and Ray cross the streams to help Phoebe destroy Gozer once and for all is both riveting and incredibly nostalgic, but there’s a scene from earlier in the film that’s lacking.

Gozer Ghostbusters
Credit: Sony Pictures

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After Phoebe, Trevor and Podcast are arrested for driving the Ecto-1 and causing damage to public property while trying to catch a ghost, Phoebe demands that Sheriff Domingo (Bokeem Woodbine) gives her her entitled phone call, to which he aptly replies, “Who ya gonna call?”

Phoebe calls Ray Stantz, with whom she has never spoken before, and probes him about her Egon Spengler, while also warning him that her grandfather’s predictions about an apocalyptic event were correct — something that drove a wedge between him, Peter, and Winston long ago.

Phoebe Ghostbusters Afterlife
Credit: Sony Pictures

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During the conversation, we see that Ray is working late at Ray’s Occult Books, his Manhattan-based bookstore which was first introduced in Ghostbusters II. Following the collapse of the Ghostbusters business in the original film, Ray opened the store as something to fall back on.

As you can probably tell by the name, Ray’s Occult Books specializes in otherwise hard-to-find books on the supernatural. However, Ghostbusters II and Ghostbusters: Afterlife aren’t the only time this bookstore has appeared in the Ghostbusters franchise.

Dan Aykroyd as Ray Stantz in Ghostbusters Afterlife
Credit: Sony Pictures via YouTube

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In IDW Publishing’s long-running “Ghostbusters” comic book series, Ray’s Occult Books is used frequently. However, in those stories, Ray actually has an assistant in the form of Kylie Griffin, a character who you might recognize from animated series Extreme Ghostbusters (1997).

Like many other Ghostbusters from the wider universe, Kylie Griffin was effectively recycled for the “Ghostbusters” comic book series. She’s an expert on all things occult, but is also an experienced Ghostbuster, and is frequently called upon for her entire skillset in the comics.

Extreme Ghostbusters
Credit: Columbia TriStar Television Distribution / Bohbot Entertainment

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Kylie Griffin is also a fan-favorite character, so it begs to question why she didn’t make an appearance in Ghostbusters: Afterlife, pottering around in the background during Ray’s conversation with Phoebe on the phone.

While many cinemagoers likely wouldn’t have even recognized the blue-haired character, the more diehard Ghostbusters fans would have. Not only that, but it would have been a great way to open up the franchise to characters who have only previously been used in animated form.

Extreme Ghostbusters
Credit: Columbia TriStar Television Distribution / Bohbot Entertainment

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It remains entirely possible that Kylie Griffin does work at the live-action version of Ray’s Occult Books, and she can easily be introduced in the next Ghostbusters movie. But we can’t help but feel that Ghostbusters: Afterlife missed a pretty big opportunity with this scene.

We understand that the film was created as a love letter to both the original 1984 and 1989 films, which were directed by Ivan Reitman, while also paying homage to the late Harold Ramis. So it makes sense that it didn’t wish to deviate from its intended “lane”, if you will.

Kylie Griffin Extreme Ghostbusters
Credit: Columbia TriStar Television Distribution / Bohbot Entertainment

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However, what’s frustrating is that the film is jam-packed with all sorts of other Easter eggs and references to the original 1984 classic. So why not reference a character who is actually pretty well-known by the Ghostbusters fanbase?

If Jason Reitman ends up directing the next Ghostbusters movie, here’s to hoping that he knows who else to call.

Would you like to see Kylie Griffin appear in Ghostbusters 4? Let us know in the comments down below!

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