Netflix ‘Ghost’ story more mystery than comedy

We Have A Ghost. (L to R) Jahi Winston as Kevin, Isabella Russo as Joy, David Harbour as Ernest in We Have A Ghost. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022.

We’ve seen lots of different kinds of ghost stories. With the latest Netflix film, We Have A Ghost, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a comedy. The cast includes Anthony Mackie, David Harbour and Jennifer Coolidge, among others, and it’s a premise that seems perfect for laughs.

There are laughs, at times, but this is more of a mystery and a drama. It’s a story of fathers and children, and learning to appreciate what we’ve been given. It’s based on a short-story from Geoff Manaugh, and is a film written and directed by Christopher Landon. In the past, Landon has delivered horror films with a great sense of humor, including Happy Death Day and Freaky. This feels like a little something different.

Here, a family moves into a fixer-upper with a past. Kevin (Jahi Di’Allo Winston) isn’t pleased to be moving…again. He also has a rocky relationship with his father, Frank (Mackie), who is a schemer and dreamer always trying to find the next big thing for his family. Kevin isn’t adjusting great to the new surroundings, but when he stumbles upon a ghost, Ernest (Harbour) in the attic, it opens him up. When his family catches wind, Frank sees this development as a way to make some money, too.

Ernest is trapped, with no memory and no means of communicating. Kevin takes it upon himself, along with a new friend and neighbor, Joy (Isabella Russo), to figure out what happened to Ernest. Since his presence also draws the attention of the government, namely Dr. Leslie Monroe (Tig Notaro), there is a ticking clock for Kevin and Joy.

As mentioned, the expectation here would be some laughs. There are some fun sequences, especially in the early going. Coolidge has a fun supporting role here, too, and brings some humor to her sequence. But much of this film is more serious and more emotional. It’s also much less of a slasher comedy that Landon’s other work.

I appreciated Harbour here. He has to do a lot with facial expressions and actions since he’s limited in dialogue. He shines here. So, too, does Winston. I loved the dynamic between Kevin and Ernest, which was the best part of the film.

In the end, the run time feels a little long. And without much in the way of laughs, it felt dry at times. Mackie has an interesting arc, especially at the end, and the father-child dynamic for both Frank and Ernest plays well in the resolution. I enjoyed the film but it fell a bit short of its potential.

Two and a Half Stars

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.


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