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'We Have A Ghost' Review: Anthony Mackie & His Family Is Haunted By David Harbour's Ghost

David Harbour as a ghost behind Anthony Mackie while Jahi Winston sees them both

Jokes and memes about kids asking their moms for iconic horror comedies and moms answering that they have one at home are already writing themselves or some idiots have programmed AI generators to write and create them instead. The one at home this time is We Have A Ghost, written and directed by Christopher Landon who's adapting Geoff Manaugh's short story 'Ernest' for feature film treatment.

Once the Presley family moves into a new house, their younger son Kevin (Jahi Winston) soon discovers a mostly mute ghost named Ernest (David Harbour) in their attic. After the dad Frank (Anthony Mackie) learns about his presence, he decides to make Ernest and his family a viral sensation, much to the joy of older son Fulton (Niles Fitch) and dismay of mom Melanie (Erica Ash). When the CIA becomes interested in Ernest's haunting, Kevin and his new friend Joy (Isabella Russo) start to investigate Ernest's unresolved past before it will be too late.

Someone who's way more cynical about these kinds of things can easily be bothered by the fact that Landon, his cast and crew have no intention of doing anything new but it is important to note that ''Ghost'' is purposefully using tropes to craft an entertaining ride. Landon has done his homework with 'Ghostbusters' and Steven Spielberg's classics among others, therefore he's able to produce exciting sequences and recognisable family dynamics for you to connect with.

Story in the centre of it all—having not read the source material and not knowing what has been added—works great in its simplicity which makes it easy to watch. Some of the more detail-oriented writing by Landon is less successful, like the humour that is often too broad for a movie that is already so broad, but there's a genuinely sweet opening and final chapter for Ernest's storyline that is also a nice showcase for Harbour as an actor since he has to express everything just with his face and body.

One way that ''Ghost'' could earn one's investment in its middling middle section would be with performances but they're never truly able to reach the needed threshold. Winston has enough charisma on his own but can't quite find the chemistry with Russo or Mackie while smaller appearances from Tig Notaro (as Dr. Monroe) and Jennifer Coolidge (as psychic Judy Romano) are too one-note to stand out. Similarly uninspiring are few filmmaking choices like the awful colouring (don't ruin your interiors just to make them look like Hollywood's close-minded perception of North Africa and Middle East) or terrible use of stormy weather where thunder and lightning make it impossible for DoP Marc Spicer or film's sound team to innovate when it comes to lighting and sound design. None of the imagery or frequencies will sadly haunt our dreams in a few days.

Smileys: Story

Frowneys: Colouring, humour

Who you gonna, uh, have on your For You page?


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