Ghostbusters: Afterlife

image for Ghostbusters: Afterlife

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Not suitable under 10; parental guidance to 12 (scary scenes, coarse language, sexual references)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Ghostbusters: Afterlife
  • a review of Ghostbusters: Afterlife completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 20 December 2021.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 10 Not suitable due to scary scenes, scary characters, coarse language, and sexual references.
Children aged 10–12 Parental Guidance recommended due to scary scenes, scary characters, coarse language, and sexual references.
Children over the age of 12 Ok for this age group, however, parents should be aware that this film contains some ‘jump’ scares which some sensitive children may not enjoy.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Fantasy themes and infrequent mild coarse language. Some scenes may scare young children
Length: 124 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Phoebe Spengler (Mckenna Grace) lives with her mother, Callie (Carrie Coon), and her big brother, Trevor (Finn Wolfhard). Times have been tough, and they are facing eviction from their small apartment. When Phoebe’s estranged grandfather dies, leaving them to sort out his dilapidated farmhouse in the tiny town of Summerville, Oklahoma, Callie decides that the best thing to do is move the family there. The family quickly realise that Summerville is no ordinary town, and that their grandfather was no ordinary person. Phoebe is intrigued by the unusual equipment she finds in her grandfather’s secret underground laboratory, and she uses her extraordinary engineering skills to restore them. With unexplained tremors plaguing the town, and a spooky prophecy to untangle, it’s not long before all that weird equipment becomes very useful. Along with her friend ‘Podcast’ (Logan Kim), her goofy teacher Gary Groober (Paul Rudd), her brother Trevor and his new friend Lucky (Celeste O'Connor), Phoebe must help save the town from destructive supernatural forces.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Supernatural forces; Ghosts; Demons; Science; Engineering; Family; Friendship.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie, including:

  • There are numerous threats of violence by supernatural forces, however, no one is physically harmed.
  • Gary Groober is bitten on the finger by a tiny marshmallow man and then chased by a rabid dog-demon.
  • The children use weapons to capture the ghosts and get them into the trap. The weapons look like laser guns.
  • Phoebe’s friend is recording Phoebe walking into her grandfather’s property, and when she asks him why he is doing it, he replies, “Just in case your body is pulled apart into tiny pieces by a dark force”.
  • The teacher is showing the children in his summer class some movies – he has chosen the two horror films Kujo and Chucky, which are shown in the background on a small TV screen.
  • A ghost fires pellets of metal out of its mouth like bullets, directly at the children chasing him.
  • A fearsome demon-dog chases people threateningly.
  • The children discuss ritualised violence and virgin sacrifice is mentioned – the meaning is not explained.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • There are quite a few ‘jump’ scares in this film, designed to give you a bit of a quick thrill. For example, a box is opened, and a giant dog-like demon explodes out of it. These are mostly resolved quickly, but children under five are likely to find it distressing.
  • There are some very scary monsters (ghosts) in this film. The CGI makes them gruesome and realistic. For example, a snarling gigantic dog-demon with glowing eyes, sharp fangs and claws; a ‘muncher’: floating ghost with grotesque features that chews metal and spits it back at people when chased; a zombie-like goddess called ‘Gozer’ who looks demonic and possessed.
  • Many scenes full of suspense, with spooky music and lots of tension.
  • Phoebe is playing chess when the chess pieces start moving by themselves. A ghost starts moving objects around.
  • Phoebe’s mother Callie becomes possessed by a demon. Her facial features transform, her voice becomes deep and raspy and her eyes glow red. She starts behaving strangely and then transforms again into a dog-demon. This scene will be particularly distressing for children in this age group.
  • Fast paced action/horror sequences where Phoebe and her friends battle against the terrifying zombie Gozer and her dog-demons.
  • Lots of scenes featuring precarious, dangerous driving.
  • Several scenes of a dark and stormy sky with a tornado swirling above the town.
  • The children must hide under the dining table when an earthquake rocks the house.
  • The children enter an abandoned mine and find an old temple, full of scary stone statues and carvings. There is a deep, bottomless pit which sometimes glows red. Inside the temple there is also a coffin containing the mummified remains of the town’s founder.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Children in this age group will also find the above-mentioned scenes scary.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • Younger children in this age group may still find some of the above-mentioned themes scary or disturbing and parental guidance is recommended, particularly for sensitive children.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

  • Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Ghostbusters franchise and merchandise.

Sexual references

There are some romantic and sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Phoebe’s teen brother, Trevor, sees a girl and is attracted to her. They flirt mildly throughout the film.
  • There is a spark of attraction between Callie - Phoebe’s mum, and the teacher - Gary Groober.
  • When Phoebe and Podcast see Mr. Groober flirting with Phoebe’s mum, Podcast says to her, “He wants to bone your mum”.
  • Mr. Groober is trying to explain why he has brought Phoebe home, and he gets flustered and says that he’s, “an escort”, which makes Phoebe’s mum look at him suspiciously and he gets even more embarrassed.
  • The children talk about what might have been sacrificed to the gods in the temple and jokingly, sacrificial virgins are mentioned, but without any real explanation.
  • Phoebe’s mum and Gary Groober embrace and kiss passionately whilst they have been possessed by demons. When they return to normal, they suggest that maybe things went a little further and sexual intercourse is implied.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some mild nudity in this movie, including:

  • A teenage girl and boy are changing their clothes in the same room. He is slightly embarrassed when she removes her top and he glimpses her bra.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Phoebe’s mother is seen asleep at the dining table with a half-finished glass of wine by her head.
  • Phoebe’s mother Callie mentions that she hopes there is a bar in town.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Shit
  • Shitbox
  • Asshole
  • Ass
  • Bone.

In a nutshell

Ghostbusters: Afterlife is an entertaining reboot of the classic 1980’s Ghostbusters franchise. Fans of the original films will love the references and cameo appearances; and younger audiences will love the ghost-busting action, witty humour and frequent horror thrills – even if they are not familiar with the original. The central character, Phoebe, is a great role model for all kids. She’s not afraid to use her brains and creativity to solve complex problems and act fast. Due to scary scenes, scary characters, coarse language, and sexual references this film is best suited to families with children over 12, with parental guidance for ages 10-12.

The main message in this movie is to appreciate the talents you have, and to use them for the greater good.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Bravery
  • Ingenuity and curiosity.
  • Independence.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Callie, Phoebe’s mum, is convinced that her father was selfish and didn’t love her. She feels bitter resentment towards him. Parents could discuss why he needed to distance himself from his family and how that could have been handled better.
  • Mr. Groober, the summer school teacher, shows the class horror movies like Kujo and Chucky. Parents could discuss with their children why that is inappropriate.