Review: No need to beat around the bush on this one, We Have a Ghost is a shockingly bad movie. Netflix hasn’t developed a great reputation for thoughtful and cared for original films, but this seems to continue to push the bar lower and lower. Another movie that Netflix should’ve never brought to TV screens.
It’s not too late for Netflix and other streaming giants to dump their less-than-desirable projects before the big summer swing. A few weeks back, I squeezed out a few words talking about Jonah Hill’s laughably unfunny You People, which felt like bland observations of the political landscape and cultural talking points. I was worried that the streaming service would only gift us one treacherous release of the new year (at least one that I cared to check out), but lucky for us, they’ve delivered another, We Have a Ghost.
Despite my intuition knowing that Netflix originals early in the year aren’t usually very good (and to be honest, aren’t very good regardless of the season if an established auteur isn’t attached to the project), I was morbidly curious because Anthony Mackie continues to be an actor I’m excited to see on screen. He’s usually tied up in Marvel projects so I try to take the opportunity to see him in other roles, even if they’re obvious paycheck jobs – which We Have a Ghost clearly seems to be.
It becomes even more shocking when you see additional credits by David Harbour and director Christopher Landon. Landon isn’t necessarily a highly coveted filmmaker, but he’s responsible for a handful of recent cult hits like the Paranormal Activity and Happy Death Day franchises and Freaky, so I’m a bit surprised to see him take such a step down in terms of quality with We Have a Ghost. It doesn’t help that Netflix seemed insistent on pushing this movie out ASAP, even if it results on shockingly bad CGI work, a story that loses itself within the first 30 minutes, and characters with little to no development.
It’s hard to pick one area of the movie to focus on first, but I have to say that We Have a Ghost has one of the worst scripts you’ll see in 2023. I’ve seen plenty of bad haunted house movies – those aren’t new to me at this point, but the movie slowly evolves into an espionage CIA thriller that has no sense of containment or meaning. It just starts going off the rails and never seems to get back on track.
We Have a Ghost also contains some laughably bad graphics of David Harbour’s ghostly presence that he wasn’t even allowed to speak a word for. I guess that’s a great way to get a paycheck for Harbour, but it quickly becomes one of the movie’s more obnoxious limbs as you don’t develop any sort of emotional connection to the wild chase the family goes on to help the poor soul. David Harbour is usually a hit-or-miss actor for me, either because he isn’t my favorite or because he has an inconsistent eye for projects. I haven’t yet sorted out which it may be, but We Have a Ghost falls into both the former and the latter.
The movie also tries to profit on the internet age with some dated references to TikTok dancing and meme culture – references I’m sure will be both obsolete and confounding to someone watching this a few years from now (if anyone seems interested in checking this out even a few months from now). It all just comes off completely disingenuous for a streaming service that’s had this problem in this past. It looks thrown together and feels tonally and narratively lost from the opening moments.
And then you get to Anthony Mackie, the reason I even checked this brutally bad movie out (except for the fact that I also was just trying to enjoy a Saturday morning with some light-hearted content). He’s not even really in We Have a Ghost and his part could’ve been filled in by a lesser known actor. It seems he probably got a fat paycheck for this and had a few weeks between other shoots. He does deliver some of the more lively moments on screen, but nothing that digs it out of the bottom of the barrel.
There’s a growing sense of hysteria and anxiety over streaming services like Netflix removing content from their platforms to save a dollar and I have a feeling that We Have a Ghost could fit into that bucket should Netflix decide to purge a couple of their original programs. It’s not good, and I can’t be brought to care about a project that the streaming platform it’s on didn’t care about either. And it’s clear Netflix had zero interest in making We Have a Ghost a palatable, somewhat original horror comedy. A big thumbs down to the executives in charge of this thing. It’s just not good.
Where to watch We Have a Ghost: Netflix
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Film Cast and Credits
David Harbour as Ernest
Jahi Di’Allo Winston as Kevin Presley
Anthony Mackie as Frank Presley
Erica Ash as Melanie Presley
Niles Fitch as Fulton Presley
Director: Christopher Landon
Cinematography: Marc Spicer
Editor: Ben Baudhuin
Composer: Bear McCreary
We Have a Ghost movie on Letterboxd
We Have a Ghost movie on IMDb