[Editor's note: The following contains spoilers for Ghostbusters: Afterlife.] Ghostbusters: Afterlife has debuted to a divisive response from longtime Ghostbusters fans and critics alike. While in general, the response has been favorable towards the new generation of Ghostbuster heroes led by Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), the grandchildren of original Ghostbusters character Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis), the handling of nostalgia has remained a hot topic for debate. Ghostbusters: Afterlife may begin as a retro, Spielbergian adventure that is far different than the original 1984 film, but within the third act it plays heavily into nostalgia with the return of the original Ghostbusters cast members and an emotional tribute to the tragic real-life death of Ramis, who passed away in 2014.
As Phoebe, Trevor, their mother Callie (Carrie Coon) fend off the demonic entity Zuul from Egon’s home, they’re aided by the return of the original team. Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Dr. Ray Schultz (Dan Aykroyd), and Dr. Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) arrive just in time for the final conflict, but they are unable to contain Zuul. That responsibility falls on young Phoebe, but she’s aided by an unexpected helping hand.
The spirit of Egon, rendered using Ramis’s real likeness, returns to guide Phoebe as she heroically wields her weapon to face off against Zuul. Footage of Ramis that was available from the first two films was used to digitally recapture his character. Egon shares a tender moment with his grandchildren and stands alongside his three old friends, uniting the original team for the first time since 1989’s Ghostbusters II.
The first post-credit sequence is a fun throwback to one of the opening gags from the original film. In 1984’s Ghostbusters, Venkman played a deceptive prank on students by testing their cognition with a lie detector. Venkman would conceal a playing card and see if the students could guess the identity of the card, and shock them with an electronic ray whenever they delivered a wrong answer. Of course, the scheming Venkman used this as a means to get better acquainted with his female students; he only shocks the male participants. In the Afterlife stinger, original cast member Sigourney Weaver returns to hook up Venkman to his own device and give him the appropriate shock he deserves.
The second post-credit scene reveals the further exploits of Winston, who in the three decades since the events of the first two films has raised a family and become a very successful businessman in New York City. Winston is now the manager of the original Ghostbusters firehouse headquarters, and uses the resources he’s amassed to support the continued development of Ghostbusters technology, including a revamped Ecto-1.
While there aren’t any hints as to who else might be using this gear, a flashing light indicates that another threat has emerged. Who will end up answering the call? There hasn’t been official confirmation of a sequel to Afterlife or word on whether or not Sony’s planned Ghostbusters cinematic universe is still in the works.
He also talks about pushing the boundaries of VFX with the ending, why he made some changes after the CinemaCon screening, and more.