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Review: We Have a Ghost (2023)

Even the 2016 “Ghostbusters” is better than this.

Here’s one thing you need to know about me when it comes to watching movies that boldly claim themselves to be comedies and then try to slide in heartfelt emotional beats that really are just cringe-inducing melodrama: I am not going to even chuckle at a single intended joke and will instead HOWL with laughter at some ridiculous outfit choice, suspicious wig or bewildering piece of dialogue. In the case of We Have a Ghost (2023) my burst of incredibly inappropriate laughter came at the emotional climax of the movie when the ghost reunites with his daughter and she says in the most outlandishly cartoonish Southern accent, “hi daddy.” It doesn’t sound hilarious (nothing in this movie is, come to think of it) but you guys, by the time this line got uttered, I had already been well and truly broken by this movie. 

Credit: / Netflix

Based on the short story Ernest by Geoff Manaugh, We Have a Ghost tells the story of Kevin, a teenage boy who moves with his family into a new house. They soon discover a ghost named Ernest in their attic and use him to become overnight social media sensations. But when Kevin digs deeper into Ernest’s past, they become targets of the CIA. 

We Have a Ghost is written and directed by Christoper Landon who also wrote Disturbia (2007), directed Happy Death Day (2017), Happy Death Day 2U (2019) and directed and co-wrote Freaky (2020) which I loved. That movie was such a fantastic blend of horror and comedy which is Landon’s strong suit. It’s clear than if he’s intent on continuing to make horror-comedies, a genre which has been good to him thus far, he needs to give them more bite and a more darkly comedic tone. This movie is described as “heartfelt,” a quality that I’m not looking for in my horror-comedies nor does it yield entertaining results when a writer like Landon is shackled by it. The writing in this movie varies from sounding like an amateur film project made by 15-year-olds to a 65-year-old cluelessly out of touch with internet and youth culture. The most unrealistic thing in this movie about a ghost is a terrible YouTube video amassing three million views in six minutes. OOF or the clunky line, “30,000 views…I’m so getting laid for this.” The most baffling thing about the writing though may have been the random references made by Kevin’s father, played by Anthony Mackie. Name-checking both the Kardashians and Shirley Temple seems a tad odd, no? 

This movie is terrible. If I hadn’t been reviewing it I would have gladly turned it off. I never had much faith in We Have a Ghost even before I started watching it. I mean, a spooky comedy about a teen discovering a ghost in the attic of their new house and a friendship forming? Mama, just watch Beetlejuice (1988)! By the way, check out my review for that movie, here. Or Casper (1995)! You can check out that review, here. Likewise, if you want to watch a teen moving into a new house and encountering CGI supernatural beings, just watch Goosebumps (2015). Check out that review, here. The premise may not be very original but it at least has the potential for fun. Sadly that promising premise is pulverized here. Perhaps We Have a Ghost would have made for a better TV show…you know, if it were actually funny or entertaining. Well, than it would just be Julie and the Phantoms (2020) another NETFLIX PROJECT that was actually good and a much better narrative of exploiting ghosts for fame. It’s always a bad sign for a movie both in terms of my personal enjoyment and the lack of originality when I can think of a handful of similar, much better movies and shows that I would rather watch.

In fact, the only reason I chose to watch We Have a Ghost is because Jennifer Coolidge is in it. Imagine my disappointment when I discovered she was in only one unmemorable scene. At least Coolidge has the honour of only briefly being in this movie. Poor David Harbour is the STAR. Did he lose a bet with someone at Netflix? Why was he cast in this? He’s a physically imposing man with a cool speaking voice. Why make him into a dowdy, nerdy speechless ghost? What an abysmal role for Harbour. His reveal as a ghost is neither scary, funny nor eventful in any way and the ghost CGI is unbelievably awful. You guys are NETFLIX! What are we doing with theres atrocious effects? They’re not even that ambitious! Literally a ghostly arm and a melting face! That can’t be difficult to pull off! 

We Have a Ghost is desperate. Desperate, sad, boring and bad. Also confused. It’s a horror-comedy that’s about a family struggling through undefined melodrama and they discover a ghost and become Internet celebrities and the son is musical and the family is poor but buys an enormous house and then the CIA hunts them and the ghost down…it’s all too much! We Have a Ghost throws everything at the wall and hopes that something will stick but nothing does. You’d think that all of the attempted plotlines would warrant the movie’s two hour runtime but good Lord, this movie is egregiously long and at the halfway point I could not believe that there was still an HOUR more to trudge through. It often made me ask myself, “who is this movie for?” The humour and horror are too childish for older audiences and the emotional beats are too boring and sappy for younger audiences. It’s a hodgepodge that ends up satisfying absolutely no one. 

Credit: / Netflix

I wish I could identify some redeeming quality in We Have a Ghost that would inspire you guys to check it out for yourselves but sadly, I cannot. I’d even go as far as to say that watching it is a waste of time. Unoriginal, unfunny and uneventful, I’m afraid this confused mess will haunt me for years to come.

Have you seen We Have a Ghost?

Let me know in the comments or on social media!


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