Identifying the Supernatural Lore In Feig’s Ghostbusters

Tolan’s knowledge is exemplary and that’s why she’s vital to the team. However loud-mouthed and stereotypical African-American she is in manners, that’s easy to tune out. She even helps explain why the second ghost the three spirit seekers – Dr Erin Gilbert (Kristen Wiig), Dr Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy) and Dr Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) – is there. The entity is a prisoner who was electrocuted; the way he floats about while the girls are trying to get answers to why it is there. This individual reminded me of how the Scoleri Brothers buzzed about from the second film. They were sentenced to electrocution and so was this second encounter.

All hell is not ready to break loose until Rowan fully enters into the narrative. He’s a certified loon going on about the end of days and wanting to break the veil between the living and the dead. There’s a bit of back story revealing how he’s been bullied, often left alone as a shade of his former self, and the team try to say to him life is not that bad. He needs to learn how to embrace living for himself than seeking vengeance. Cinema will always treat the supernatural as a source for evil. In real life, it’s not to be feared. However, there’s no turning back for this cardboard villain who’s a textbook psycho. As for how he’s learned quantum physics to make a gate to the other side, that’s a detail forgiven in lieu of keeping this film short.

Yes, Jillian Holtzmann resembles The Real Ghostbusters version of Egon and is a tribute to Hans Holtzer. No big deal.

The performances by these comediennes and the laughs they offer are hit and miss. The standout is with Gilbert at the later part of the film when she gets to channel Louis Tully fully freaked out in a scene many Ghostbusters fans will be familiar with. Holtzmann — most likely named in honour of Hans Holzer (a well-respected real life paranormal investigator) — was too spaced out to really be a highlight of the film. She’s flying at a different cosmic stream and there’s even a moment in the film where Patty acknowledges her as just a loon.

In the story that matters, the drama between Erin and Abbey is at the crux of this film and while they seem to never see eye to eye, their relationship is important. Feig’s screenplay shines when these two offer a meaningful back story about how they have become ostracised from high school and helped each other out. More of that drama would have helped make this film stand out more than the nostalgia trips.

This film nicely serves its purpose of being breezy popcorn entertainment. It does not succeed anymore. It will most likely go down in history as the most criticized by the entire fandom. For me, the film did not offer anything new and the end credit saying this film is “based on Ghostbusters” indicates that it was fully intended to borrow moments from the originals. I’m always curious about how Hollywood portrays this fringe hobby of ghost busting (I rather use the term paranormal investigation, since busting means destruction in some form), and am glad it took a pointed stab at the television programs out there. I would have truly laughed if this film included a who’s who of the paranormal reality shows. That in-joke would have had me busting a gut.

Who is this parade ghost, and why do I want to k now more about him?
Who is this parade ghost, and why do I want to know more about him?

While this film got a few concepts about the lore wrong, the presentation did not destroy my world. The proper term for ghostly voices recorded on tape is electronic (not electro) voice phenomena and I have to ask how a certain taxi driver knew the class and type of entity he refuses to meet up with again? I’m guessing there’s more than meets the eye with that character.

Also, I’m not surprised Tobin’s Spirit Guide is replaced with a new textbook, Ghosts from Our Past: Both Literally and Figuratively: The Study of the ParanormalGhostbusters. A real print edition (yes, it can be bought on Amazon.comGhostbusters) by Three Rivers Press offers added material to flesh out the world Feig and co-writer Katie Dippold created. The chapter “Ghost Girl, That One Time I Saw a Ghost – Erin’s Story” is in this book along with an overview of this team’s understanding on the who’s who of the paranormal world (quoting Harry Price of all folks). Part Three explores their methods of elimination and location is offered. Am I curious? Sure, if I can find it at the public library (one, that’s not haunted).

Anyone interested in looking at the real lore is best advised to read the material published by Brad and Sherry Steiger. Their latest work, Real Visitors, Voices from Beyond, and Parallel Dimensionsis a better examination of the spirit world and it is written by real-life paranormal investigators who have investigated supernatural goings on since the 60’s.

3 Ghosts out of 5

Author: Ed Sum

I'm a freelance videographer and entertainment journalist (Absolute Underground Magazine, Two Hungry Blokes, and Otaku no Culture) with a wide range of interests. From archaeology to popular culture to paranormal studies, there's no stone unturned. Digging for the past and embracing "The Future" is my mantra.

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