We Have A Ghost

We Have A Ghost

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Finding a ghost named Ernest haunting their new home turns Kevin's family into social media sensations but now they have to figure out who he is and why he's there in We Have A Ghost.

Seems you can’t move into a big spooky house without a ghost scaring you. Or at least, trying to scare you.

Silent spectre, Ernest (David Harbour) fails to unsettle new resident Kevin (Jahi Winston) in this occasionally touching movie where the laughs tend to evaporate into stale air when the curtains are thrown open.

It’s not for lack of a good cast. Father Frank (Anthony Mackie) has proven his range already with movies like Synchronic under his belt, although he is arguably miscast here.

What Is We Have A Ghost About?

His family (including wife Melanie and two children, 16-year-old son Kevin and his older brother, Fulton) are implied to have moved into this new house selling at a steal due to Frank’s perpetual mistakes.

An antagonistic relationship between Frank and Kevin fails to connect, partly because Kevin’s character is so unswervingly gentle and nice that Mackie’s admonishments come across as just plain bullying.

Combine that with a ‘get rich quick’ mentality, and the father figure plotline grinds like a cog cloyed up with old dust, only barely blown clean by a genuinely touching and vulnerable speech in the last 15 minutes.

Where We Have A Ghost glows is through Kevin and Ernest’s relationship. The choice to make Ernest silent, and with no memory of what happened to him, immediately draws out the sympathy in both Kevin and us as viewer.

Harbour is fantastic here. Working with virtually no dialogue, he emanates loss, sadness, anger, and warmth purely through his skilled physical presence; Winston brings out the quiet resigned pain in his character with grace.

His altruistic efforts to investigate the death of Ernest – and the connection this forms with his spook in the attic – is very much the beating heart of the movie.

We Have A Ghost Trailer

Is We Have A Ghost Worth Watching?

Almost everything else feels tacked on. Kevin’s sweet teenage romance with his neighbour (Isabella Russo) is marred by lazy jokes yanked from the zeitgeist.

Efforts by super serious ghosthunter Tig Notaro (Your Place or Mine) drift through walls until a nuts and bolts script decision to swivel 180 degrees.

Plus the rest of Kevin’s family slot into ‘wife’ and ‘brother’ with not much else to show for it.

Even the antagonism between Kevin and Frank struggles to make its presence known because the balance between them is so uneven; a rather bread-and-butter plot line involving footage of Ernest going viral and Frank’s attempts to profit from the media storm lacks any substance to it.

We are only ever interested in the mystery of Ernest. Everything else is a predictable séance we can’t escape from.

We Have A Ghost plays up the power of ghosts in set pieces with two fun action sequences. The first, in which a paint-by-numbers TV medium (Jennifer Coolidge) and her crew are scared off by a performative Ernest is horror movie trope amusement (see how many references you can spot).

Also, a police car chase sequence (seriously Kevin, how did you learn to drive like that?!) screeches in with great gags as Ernest evaporates from car to car to throw off the pursuers.

Like a life half-remembered, We Have A Ghost is a mixed swirl of elements. When it all coalesces into a purpose, it is a sweet and emotional film with good set pieces and strong central performances.

Yet sneak up at it from any other angle and it will turn to mist in your hands.

Words by Mike Record


  • Winston And Harbour Are Great
  • Interesting Mystery
  • A Strong Emotional Core


  • No Other Characters Engage
  • Lazy Jokes
  • Too Much Ineffectual Script Dressing


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