It has been more than 30 years since Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd first strapped on their proton packs to battle a ghostly infestation in Manhattan in the 1984 blockbuster comedy Ghostbusters. Now the legacy continues. Sony Pictures just dropped the first trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife, a sequel directed by Jason Reitman (Juno, Thank You for Smoking), featuring a whole new team.
Reitman is a fitting choice to direct, as he’s the son of Ivan Reitman, director of the 1980s films. You may have glimpsed Jason, his mother, and his sister in the original Ghostbusters as residents who are fleeing their haunted skyscraper. Reitman resisted following in his father’s footsteps for years before finally succumbing to the call. “I’ve always thought of myself as the first Ghostbusters fan, when I was a 6-year-old visiting the set,” Reitman told EW back in January. “This is the next chapter in the original franchise. It is not a reboot. What happened in the ’80s happened in the ’80s, and this is set in the present day.”
Vanity Fair offered a first look at the latest film last week, featuring several stills—including one showing the original Ghostbusters tricked-out ambulance. Per the official synopsis, “A single mother and her two children move to Summerville, Oklahoma, after inheriting property from a previously unknown relative. They discover their family’s legacy to the original Ghostbusters, who have become something of a myth, as many have long since forgotten the events of the ‘Manhattan Crossrip of 1984′”—i.e., the events of the original film. Carrie Coon (The Leftovers) plays mom Callie, while Mckenna Grace (The Haunting of Hill House) plays her science-loving daughter Phoebe. Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things) plays son Trevor.
“As the family arrives at an old farm, they begin to discover their connection to the original Ghostbusters,” Reitman told Vanity Fair. “Trevor and Phoebe are about to find out who their grandfather was and whether they’re ready to pick up the proton pack themselves.” Among other revealed details, Phoebe will find a device that reads psychokinetic energy. Paul Rudd plays summer school teacher Mr. Grooberson; the Manhattan Crossrip was his most formative childhood memory, and we see his delight at holding a bona fide vintage ghost trap in his hands.
The trailer does not look anything like a Ghostbusters movie when it opens. We see Trevor hanging with some new pals, one of whom asks what the family is doing in Summerville. “Honestly, my mom won’t say it, but we’re completely broke,” he replies, as we see a flashback of Callie wearily pulling an eviction notice off the door of their old home. “And the only thing that’s left in our name is this creepy old farmhouse our grandfather left us in the middle of nowhere.” Then there’s a loud noise from the bottom of the mine shaft they’re sitting above, and a fluorescent green ghostie shoots out into the air.
The family’s arrival seems to have awakened something in the town. As Rudd’s Mr. Grooberson tells Trevor, “Somehow, a town that is nowhere near a tectonic plate, that has no fault lines, no fracking, no loud music even, is shaking on a daily basis.” Then Phoebe finds an old ghost trap, which Grooberson initially mistakes for a replica. “There hasn’t been a ghost sighting in 30 years,” he says to Phoebe, and gives her a crash course on the Manhattan Crossrip. “New York in the ’80s? It was like The Walking Dead.”
The Ghostbuster aspects slowly begin to emerge. “My grandfather died. My mom says we’re just here to pick through the rubble of his life,” Phoebe tells her teacher, right before she discovers all her grandfather’s old Ghostbusters paraphernalia, including the uniforms. Meanwhile, Trevor discovers the Ghostbusters-mobile with its ECTO-1 license plate, outfitted with a handy gunner’s seat and a (functioning) proton pack.
“Call it fate. Call it luck. Call it karma,” a voiceover intones, and it sounds a lot like Bill Murray, aka Peter Venkman himself. “I believe everything happens for a reason.” The original cast is expected to appear in Ghostbusters: Afterlife, including Murray, Sigourney Weaver (as Dana Barrett), Dan Aykroyd (as Ray Stantz), Ernie Hudson (as Winston Zeddemore), and Annie Potts (as Janine Melnitz).
Harold Ramis, who played Egon Spengler, died in 2014, and it’s pretty clear that Spengler is the kids’ recently deceased grandfather. Phoebe finds a collection of spores, molds, and fungus (his favorite hobby), and one of the old uniforms has “Spengler” stitched onto it. That might explain the relatively subdued, more contemplative tone of this first trailer: at once mourning the loss of Ramis and celebrating the legacy he helped create, now handed down to a new generation.
Ghostbusters; Afterlife hits theaters July 10, 2020.
Listing image by Sony Pictures