Netflix has been pumping out a lot of paranormal themed programming lately. And to say, “I ain’t afraid of no ghost,” because We Have A Ghost (who happens to be more comical than scary) suggests this distributor wants a hit for everyone to enjoy. Although this pet project by writer/director Christopher Landon doesn’t have the same vibe as Ghostbusters, what’s presented follows that formula from Casper.
When the Presley family moves into an old home and a member discovers it’s haunted by a phantom, he isn’t running. Fulton (Niles Finch) and his older brother Kevin (Jahi Winston) are opposites, and as for whom this entity attaches itself to is with the youngest. He eventually names the spirit Earnest (David Harbour), since all the clues propose that was his identity prior to death. As for why he’s stuck in this plane of existence, the mystery slowly unfolds to suggest he was murdered. That backstory doesn’t reveal itself well until much later in this very long movie.
I was amused with the look at TikTok culture, but that’s not sufficient to really carry this motion picture forward. When the plot is really about teens having problems on various fronts, having a ghost to push them around mostly amounts to one thing—to let them see the world from another perspective. They better themselves with help from the supernatural world. It’s a classical narrative device that I’m sure hails from Greco-Roman times. Instead of being threats to life, they are guardians.
A few tropes common to this genre show Ernest has unfinished business. As for why the CIA wants to catch a ghost, the details aren’t all that clear. The concept feels very left field to an otherwise simple coming of age tale, ala E.T. the Extraterrestrial.
I also have a feeling that Leslie (Tig Notaro, pictured below) knows Earnest. She can easily go capture any ghost for her studies, but to home him on him must imply there’s some past. It’s a tease that isn’t fully explained. And as for why her bosses from the CIA are invested, only a parapsychologist would know. There were past instances when remote viewing was a thing in the espionage scene. This fact could’ve been explained before showing that the agency wants to recruit the undead to haunt the enemy!
Plus, unless these various agencies have a profile on whom these spirits were when alive, to trust them to gather intelligence, especially when they can’t talk, is a problem. Whether Ernest’s inability to speak is intentional or not, I’m at least glad this filmmaker recognizes the hurdles even normal paranormal investigator’s face—communication is often a one-way street, and just what they want to assert isn’t always understood. I enjoyed David Harbour’s performance because he has to express all that frustration, remorse, and spookiness through emoting.
In that regard, we have a production team who’s done their research. The film acknowledges the faults and difficulties of spirit communication. They’re not all out to harm the living, and to say We Have A Ghost simply means the house has an invisible visitor who is making its presence known. Just how we respond to him or her depends on being sympathetic rather than to run away!
3½ Stars out of 5
We Have a Ghost Movie Trailer