Review by Tatiana Miranda
Christopher Landon is notorious for his campy supernatural and slasher films, including Happy Death Day and Freaky. With his new film, We Have a Ghost, he attempts to reach a younger and more family-friendly audience. We Have a Ghost is full of well-known names such as Anthony Mackie, Jennifer Coolidge, David Harbor, and up-and-comers Jahi Di'Allo Winston and Niles Fitch. Inspired by the Vice short story by Geoff Manaugh, the film's plot is more silly than spooky and full of modern social media references. From TikTok to Twitter, social media fame is at the center of this supposedly E.T.-inspired story.
As most haunted house stories begin, the film opens as teenager Kevin's family moves into a decrepit old home. Moody and almost perpetually listening to music, Kevin is a clear outsider in his own home. His dad questions his music choices, his brother looks down on him, and his mom tries to stay uninvolved. Between Kevin's inability to fit in and his family's financial issues, the move is seen as a desperate plea to make things right. In some ways, they got what they asked for in discovering a ghost in their attic named Ernest.
Soon, Kevin discovers that Ernest doesn't remember his previous life, and they must work together to uncover his past in order for him to move on. This plan is derailed when Kevin's dad and brother find out about the ghost and attempt to monetize his existence. Quickly, Ernest reaches internet fame and is memorialized through memes and fan art. Even after run-ins with famous mediums and government officials, Kevin continues sleuthing so that Ernest can stop living as a ghost.
In interviews, Landon stated that he connected with the story for nostalgic reasons as it feels similar to E.T. While points can be made for that comparison, We Have a Ghost feels more like a Beetlejuice rip-off as both feature abnormal teens befriending ghosts that their parents try to monetize. While both are about parental relationships, the main difference lies within the more superficial notes that We Have a Ghost tries to hit, such as social media and even race, which is an interesting choice for a movie written by a white guy.
Overall, We Have a Ghost is in the same vein as the rest of Landon's films, as they are often easily forgettable and lack any real personality. Some of the main characters, mainly Ernest, Kevin, and Kevin's father, Frank, have the potential to be interesting, multi-dimensional characters, but instead, they fall flat against the jumble of plot points and action sequences.
We Have a Ghost begins streaming on Netflix on February 24.