We Have a Ghost Reviewed

We Have a Ghost
We Have a Ghost
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Netflix’s We Have a Ghost is a family-friendly horror movie that could have been much better. It had the ingredients for success: a good cast, interesting story and okay special effects, but it ended up being not so much more than just another average film with an intriguing concept.

Directed by Christopher Landon, who has done quite well in terms of comedy-horror – especially when he collaborates with talented writers as was the case here – We Have a Ghost was rather plain. The plot itself wasn’t that bad perhaps: based on Geoff Manaugh’s short story ‘Ernest’ this film is primarily about interpersonal wrong turns and imprudent ambitions reflected through strained father-son connections. The acting skills of Anthony Mackie and Jahi Di’Allo Winston made what might otherwise have appeared to be unrealistic situations seem real.

As Frank, Mackie personifies the arrogant father figure while Kevin (played by Winston) is his perfect foil. He always thinks that there are other opportunities somewhere which can help him create better conditions for his family. He doesn’t seem to understand why Kevin won’t let outsiders dissuade him from investing money into yet another get-rich-quick scheme. But Kevin’s problems go much deeper than just that; however, Frank cannot listen to words spoken face-to-face causing him to go inside himself. In this way, Winston shows the flip side of Kevin’s always depressed personality which helps people understand why he behaves like this sometimes or often even if it seems monotonous type behaviour. The pair shoot frosty glances at one another and toss out cutting remarks; despite coming from negative feelings mostly there is some chemistry between them.

The same holds true of David Harbour’s Ernest, the titular ghost in We Have A Ghost. There are no conversations because he is mute all his emotions come across via facial expressions and body language as most silently speaking characters do during films. Still, the actor’s emotional skills made some touching moments seem genuine while his part in this family dispute looked very predictable. Even though the special effects showed little difference between Ernest’s ghostly body and other similar roles in movies like The Frighteners and Ghost, Harbour brought enough depth to his character to make it interesting. The rest of the cast should also be well received; Isabella Russo, who portrays Joy (Kevin’s friend) is charming while Tig Notaro’s role of government agent turned ghostbuster is decent.

We Have a Ghost revolves around disputes that may happen between parents and their children across generations. Those first arguments along with its supernatural puzzle hint at heavy topics such as harmful stereotypes, what it means when family members cause them to feel different from everyone else as well as mental or physical absence of fathers regardless of how they left (and why). It suggests that there will be bigger problems than just living in a haunted house through raising the stakes here.

Regrettably, We Have a Ghost does not give much insight on these issues. This is mostly done during significant moments before the whole story takes precedence. Nonetheless, Kevin’s insecurities about his position within his own family are overshadowed by his attempts to help Ernest find his lost memories. These are relatable plights – as both feel stuck in their current positions – yet only one of them ever touches on their dilemmas. However, it does not imply that Kevin emerges from this experience completely changed for good as he had many other troubles that were just handled in a hush-hush manner which made the ending less impactful.

Everything is so predictable and safe; something that would have been fine if the film was funny. Netflix has labeled this movie as horror comedy; however, most any laugh line could have gone a long way towards saving the vapid spots; alas, they fail or become even more embarrassingly uncomfortable than expected. Except for Harbour’s haunting role where he twists himself into grotesque shapes before “removing” his face and the brief cameo from an actor whose star is rising right now, there is no other meaningful reason for their being there at all. Other than a few well-placed lines and obligatory hashtag references, it basically consists of people screaming and running every time Ernest appears.

Most of what occurs on screen is forgettable because it adheres to a conventional method which avoids highlighting the interesting parts of an occurrence. Also since there isn’t much humor involved nothing breaks up all the ordinariness.


Netflix’s We Have a Ghost has some solid acting performances, okay special effects and an original concept revolving around tormented little boy who becomes pals with ghost Ernie (acted out by David Harbour). Unfortunately though, these better parts get squashed down into what actually comes across as a lackluster senseless aspect in general after all. Still, we do get enough intrigue surrounding Ernie’s past and the most interesting and honest instances of the second half that it does not completely slip into a state of mediocrity’s icy grip.

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