We Have a Ghost Review and Ending Explained – Aimless and Stagnant Family Ghost Film

By Marc Miller
Published: February 24, 2023 (Last updated: March 12, 2024)
We Have a Ghost Review and Ending Explained
We Have a Ghost Promotional Image (Credit to Netflix)


Christopher Landon’s aimless and stagnant We Have a Ghost is an attempt by the horror-comedy director to make a family ghost film that is light on chills, general hilarity, and soul-stirring moments.

It’s always interesting when watching a director try to straighten out their R-rated horror careers. That feeling was apparent in Christopher Landon’s We Have a Ghost. The maverick dark horror comedy director (Freaky, Happy Death Day, and the Paranormal Activity franchise) shows his softer side for the streaming giant Netflix. Landon has made a ghost film for the family that’s light on thrills, chills, and general hilarity.

We Have a Ghost Review and Plot summary

The story follows the Presley family, who have just moved to town. What brought them here? Frank (Anthony Mackie) and Melanie (Erica Ash) have found a home that’s a fixer-upper but cheap. They have two children. Their oldest, Fulton (The Fallout’s Niles Finch), is preparing to apply for colleges. Their youngest, Kevin (Charm City King’s Jahi Di’Allo Winston), marches to a different beat. He is intelligent and empathetic and prefers Terry Kath because Jimmy Hendrix said he was his inspiration.

Kevin is having some trouble adjusting. That’s until he runs into a ghost named Ernest (Stranger Thing‘s David Harbour) haunting their attic. Dressed in a 1950s bowling shirt and sporting a bad combover, Ernest tries to frighten Kevin. He gives up rather quickly because of the young man’s laughter.

Kevin thinks it’s so funny he tapes it on his phone. It appears Ernest has been just going through the motions for the past years.

Kevin attempts to get to know him, but this middle-aged version of Casper cannot remember anything about himself. Nor can he talk. However, things change when Fulton uploads the video on YouTube, and Ernest becomes an internet sensation.

We Have a Ghost was adapted from Geoff Manaugh’s Ernest. So, you can thank Jim Varney’s 1980s creation for this film’s on-the-nose title. This would also explain why We Have a Ghost feels aimless and stagnant for most of the second half.

There isn’t enough story there for a two-hour film. Having the production’s biggest star have practically zero dialogue is an even riskier choice. Harbor is one of the funnier comic relief dramatic actors you will find. Limiting his excellent dry delivery and physical comedy makes some scenes feel endless.

The story is essentially any family film where you have an unwanted guest, like Paddington or even What About Bob. Like in those beloved movies, you have the family embracing the nuisance, while a stick in the mud within the family ranks wants that character gone, usually the father. Here, the script is flipped a bit, which I enjoyed.

Here, Mackie’s Frank tries to monetize Ernest so his family gets ahead. This leads to the movie’s best scene, featuring Jennifer Coolidge playing a version of the Long Island Medium. This scene combines some genuine laughs, and the special effects are effective.

I wish the subplot involving Tig Notaro as an ex-government agent hunting Ernest utilized the comedian’s skills. She is wasted here.

Is We Have a Ghost a good movie?

We Have a Ghost has all the makings of an enjoyable movie. The teen romance between Kevin and his next-door neighbor is sweet. Mackie does have a nice father-son moment. However, the moment is disingenuous when the plot leads to Ernest being reunited with someone. The moment is fumbled and undercuts the movie that will have most on the fence.

We Have a Ghost Ending Explained

What is Ernest’s real name?

While doing research, Kevin and Joy find out Ernest’s real name is Randy. Kevin, his new friend Joy, and Ernest go on the run away from a once discredited, now active, federal agent, Dr. Leslie Monroe. She is trying to apprehend Ernest and, in the name of paranormal psychology, study him. While on the run, they are investigating what happened to Ernest because that may not be his name! The home’s owner was Ernest Scheller, and they visit his home. So who is Ernest? Their ghost’s name is Randy McGovern, and he was Ernest’s brother-in-law. He says that Ernest lost his wife during labor and couldn’t handle it. So he left his four-year-old daughter, June (nicknamed Junebug), with them, and they never saw him again. They raised her on their own.

We Have a Ghost Ending

Why did Ernest kill Randy?

Ernest killed Randy because they wanted his child, June. After Monroe shows up with thermal weapons that control Randy and capture him, it seems Monroe doesn’t have Randy’s best interest at heart because her boss tells Monroe they can do whatever they want for him. Later, Randy remembers what happened to him. Ernest killed him to steal Ernest’s baby! Monroe allows him to escape, and he goes to Kevin’s house. There, the real Ernest is there, accusing Kevin of knowing more than he does while brandishing a gun. Turns out, Ernest killed Randy because he and his wife couldn’t have children of their own.

Who saved Kevin from Ernest?

At the end of the film, not only was Kevin saved by Randy but by his father, Frank as well. Ernest attacks the family, chasing Kevin to the attic. He is about to hit poor Kevin with a blow from a crowbar when Randy arrives and stops him by grabbing his wrist. He backs Ernest into the wall against a plate glass window. Randy punches him, and Ernest is knocked out. He turns around and smiles at Kevin. Frank then runs into the room. He takes a moment, has a look of hatred on his face, and charges at Randy. Kevin thinks he is attacking his friend, but Frank sees Ernest stand up with the gun, ready to shoot Kevin. Frank pushes Ernest through the window and to his death.

Is Randy reunited with June?

The film ends with Frank and Kevin helping Randy reunite with June. They drive her to Randy, who is standing on a beach. She walks to him and touches his face with her hand without saying a word. This floods back memories of her with Randy as a child. He opens his eyes, and they embrace. Later, Randy and Kevin are talking on the beach when Randy begins to fade away, turning into magical orange dust. Kevin says goodbye.

The final scenes show the family leaving the home. As Kevin leaves the attic, he looks back and turns out the lights. A moment later, a single light flickers an orange light, suggesting that Randy can still see them.

More Articles on We Have a Ghost

Movie Reviews, Netflix, Streaming Service