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  • Writer's pictureMatt Conway

We Have a Ghost: Review

We Have A Ghost Synopsis: The discovery that their house is haunted by a ghost named Ernest makes Kevin's family a social media sensation. But when Kevin and Ernest get to the bottom of the mystery of Ernest's past, they become targets of the CIA.

Introverted teenager Kevin befriends a mysterious ghost named Earnest when moving into his new house. The duo forms an unlikely pair when embarking on a crusade to discover Earnest's hidden past in Netflix's We Have a Ghost.

Years of haunting horror features and "real-world" investigative shows continue to paint ghosts as nefarious spectrums lurking around the corner. In the hands of Happy Death Day writer/director Christopher Landon, We Have a Ghost takes a decidedly more sentimental approach as the friendly Earnest searches for peace amidst a world that writes him off at every turn.

Landon's intriguing "Casper meets the social media age" premise is a novel concept on paper. It's just a shame that the promising pieces never form a satisfying and cohesive experience.

I've always admired Landon for his distinctive vision behind the camera. With features like Freaky and Happy Death Day 2U, the horror auteur artistically swings for the fences in intriguing genre fusions that play by their own creative rules. I can't say I always love the end result of his ambitious efforts (I am one of the few who didn't care for the original Happy Death Day), but I always leave his films with a sense of appreciation for their unique qualities.

We Have a Ghost exemplifies Landon's strengths and weaknesses as a writer/director. His film operates at its best when zeroing in on the central relationship between Kevin and Earnest - a wordless ghost who communicates via mumbles and expressive movements. Charm City Kings star Jahi Di'Allo Winston delivers an assured lead performance as Kevin that skillfully elevates the character's archetype foundation, while David Harbour carries gravitas and charm in bringing the specter Earnest to life. This central arc continues Landon's trend of demystifying horror tropes with refreshing emotional authenticity. When the film gives both characters room to connect, watching their natural bond grow onscreen is a true delight.

Unfortunately, We Have a Ghost is haunted by its muddled execution of a worthwhile idea. Landon's screenplay features a lot of narrative threads in its overcomplicated web, including the distant father-son relationship between Kevin and his father Frank (played by Anthony Mackie), the search for Earnest's past, social media's newfound obsession with Earnest, a slew of ghost experts looking to capture Earnest and several other subplots that I don't want to waste your time mentioning. As you can guess, the script ends up being a clunky crockpot of ideas and concepts that never marinate cohesively. Some of the arcs exist exclusively to add unwarranted steaks, including a third-act twist that woefully missises in its attempt to inject additional tension.

I can see where some of the threads have merit. Juxtaposing the all-consuming spotlight of the social media bubble against Kevin and Earnest's sincere relationship is a sound way to reflect on society's commodification of unexplainable spectacles. In execution, the idea, and several other intriguing subplots, are left with no room to breathe. It does not help that We Have a Ghost is Landon's blandest directorial effort to date. His usual panache for high-energy craftsmanship and inventive stylistic flourishes is noticeably absent as the director conforms to the flavorless Netflix visual sheen.

I applaud We Have a Ghost for trying something new in the crowded supernatural space. It boasts remarkable spirit in its pursuits, but the film's good intentions never build into an assured feature.

We Have a Ghost is now playing on Netflix.


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