Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Small Details You Missed In The Ghostbusters: Afterlife Trailer

The trailer for Ghostbusters: Afterlife is finally here, and one thing is clear: this is a family affair all the way. Not only was the flick directed by Jason Reitman, the son of legendary Ghostbusters helmer Ivan Reitman, but the theme of family and legacy runs strongly throughout this first spot — at times in some pretty subtle ways.

It's been a long, long time coming for a proper sequel to Ghostbusters (1984) and Ghostbusters II (1989) to hit the big screen, but after feasting our eyes on this spot, we're convinced that Reitman and company are on the right track. There's certainly no shortage of acting talent on display: the movie stars Carrie Coon (Gone Girl), Finn Wolfhard (Stranger Things), McKenna Grace (Captain Marvel), and Paul Rudd (Avengers: Endgame), all of whom get a little time to shine in the spot. But what intrigues us the most is the story that the filmmakers seem to be weaving here, one which ties very nicely into the original movies while still incorporating plenty of interesting original elements.

The spot features callbacks galore, but plenty of these are so brief and/or subtle that they're easy to miss. Fortunately, we have eagle eyes, an encyclopedic knowledge of Ghostbusters, and an overflowing well of enthusiasm to bring to the task of pointing them out for you.

Symmetrical book stacking!

The flick's basic story is outlined in its opening moments. Down-on-her-luck Callie (Coon) has run out of employment opportunities and money in the big city, so she packs up her teenage son Trevor (Wolfhard) and tween daughter Phoebe (Grace) to make the trip cross-country to an old family homestead. Well, it's not so much a "homestead" as it is a dilapidated old Oklahoma farmhouse, the only thing left to the family by their dear, deceased grandfather (who is conspicuously not named). 

Once the family moves into town, some strange stuff starts to go down. We learn from the wonderfully-named summer school teacher Mr. Grooberson (Rudd) that the town "isn't anywhere near a tectonic plate, [and] has no fault lines, no fracking, no loud music, even," — but nevertheless, it's become plagued by sudden and frequent earthquakes. It's during one of these tremblors that we first get an idea of the supernatural goings-on to follow by way of a very quick callback to the opening scene of Ghostbusters.

As the earth starts to shimmy and shake around Trevor and his family, we see some books stacked in the background — a stack that seems to be, well, unnecessarily high, and a bit out of place. You may recall that in the 1984 flick, one of the team's first encounters with a malevolent spirit comes as they investigate weird occurrences at the New York Public Library, where they find a bunch of books stacked in just such a manner. "Symmetrical book stacking," exclaims Dan Aykroyd's Ray Stantz, "Just like the Philadelphia mass turbulence of 1947." 

Those ominously stacked books seem to be the herald of supernatural activity once again — and that's not even the spot's only reference to Ghostbusters' library scene.

Something familiar about this...

Rudd gets a lot of face time in the trailer, which will happen when the Marvel Cinematic Universe makes you a beloved superstar. But it certainly looks like his character will serve a significant purpose; he's a bonafide Ghostbusters fan boy, and he'll doubtless be the key to helping our young heroes understand just what the heck is going on in their new town.

Case in point: when Phoebe discovers one of the Ghostbusters' old ghost traps in a secret space in the family farmhouse, she brings it to school to puzzle over along with one of her classmates (Logan Kim). Mr. Grooberson proclaims it a "killer replica," and as he explains what he believes it be a replica of, we hear a fluttery, unobtrusive piano motif. It's the exact same motif that Ghostbusters injects into its score as things start to get really creepy in the library — but old Grooberson isn't done doling out the exposition.

We soon see him pulling up old video of the Ghostbusters to show to the kids, as he explains that "There hasn't been a ghost sighting in 30 years... New York in the '80s? It was like The Walking Dead." He pointedly asks Phoebe if her dad ever mentioned this, to which the girl replies, "It's just my mom." We then see Phoebe descending (via a fireman's pole) to an underground chamber in the farmhouse, analyzing the surroundings with a very familiar-looking device, as her voiceover explains, "My grandfather died... my mom says we're just here to pick through the rubble of his life." 

We then see Grooberson examining the ghost trap as it begins to glow green, as his voiceover asks, "Wait a minute... who are you?" Who, indeed? We don't know for absolute certain, but we have a pretty darn good idea.

A family legacy of Ghostbusting

It's safe to say that Phoebe bears a pretty strong resemblance to Egon Spengler, the only original Ghostbuster whom we know for sure won't be making an appearance in this film (Harold Ramis, who portrayed Egon, passed away in 2014). Could Callie, Trevor, and Phoebe in fact be the Spengler family? Let's take a look at the clues contained in that scene in the underground bunker.

First, as Phoebe picks through all of the stuff scattered about the area (which just happens to include one of the Ghostbusters' famous proton packs), we see a number of labeled petri dishes sitting on a table. Examining them very closely, we can see that they contain such things as "Cladosporin," "Microconidia," and "Aspergillis fumigatus." Recall that in the original film, when Egon was casually asked by the Ghostbusters' secretary Janine (Annie Potts) if he had any hobbies, he replied, "I collect spores, molds and fungus." Yep... bingo.

Also, at the exact moment that Grooberson's voiceover inquires as to who Phoebe is, we see her discovering a rack upon which is hanging all of the Ghostbusters' old uniforms. We can only make out the name tag on the first one, though: "Spengler."

Unless all of this is seriously hardcore misdirection, we're pretty sure that dear old grandad was none other than Egon himself. It even makes sense that he would have bought this property in the middle of nowhere, because as he would have been well aware, there have apparently been strange goings-on here for a long time.

Pay attention to the signs...

Right after this sequence, a brief shot shows Phoebe and her classmate approaching the entrance to an old mine. They probably should have paid closer attention to those "ROAD CLOSED" and "NO TRESPASSING" signs — but there's another sign in the distance, one which we, the viewers, would do well to pay very close attention to.

It reads "Shandor Mining Co.," and if you love Ghostbusters like we do, this name will set off all sorts of alarms. As explained by Spengler to the rest of the Ghostbusters when they were jailed after their containment unit was shut down and all hell broke loose, Ivo Shandor wasn't just a mining magnate — he was an arhcitect, the very same one who designed the skyscraper in which Dana Barrett (Signourney Weaver) lived, the building referred to by Stantz as "Spook Central."

Spengler continued to break down for his horrified comrades that Shandor, a real Renaissance man, was also a doctor who "performed a lot of unnecessary surgeries," and the head of a secret society which worshiped Gozer the Gozerian, the ancient evil entity which was threatening the Big Apple with utter destruction at that very moment. You know, it takes a lot of materials to build a skyscraper — materials which may just have been mined from this very location with the end goal of unleashing Gozer upon the world. And, speaking of the Gozerian...

Okay, who brought the dog?

You'll recall that before transforming into the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and wreaking terrible havoc on New York, Gozer was first ushered into our plane of existence by the Vinz Clortho, the Keymaster, and Zuul, the Gatekeeper. These entities possessed Louis Tully (Rick Moranis) and Dana, respectively, and caused them both to mutate into giant, hideous supernatural creatures which the Ghostbusters fandom have dubbed "Terror Dogs."

In one very quick shot in the trailer, we see Grooberson in his car at night, being menaced by an unseen creature; all we see is its giant, scaly paw, and it sure looks familiar. It appears that the Terror Dogs — and, therefore, Vinz and Zuul — are back in business, and as we all know, their business is to facilitate the coming of Gozer, the Destructor.

It's worth noting what the trailer didn't show us: the original surviving Ghostbusters, whom we know will be taking part in the madness of Afterlife. As the spot concludes with Trevor, Phoebe, and Phoebe's buddy tearing around town in ECTO-1 — letting loose with their proton pack while pursuing what appears to be a "Class 5 full-roaming vapor" much like Slimer — we know that these kids have plenty of moxie. If Gozer the Gozerian is on its way back to Earth, though, they're going to need all the help they can get... and when there's something strange in your neighborhood, who ya gonna call?