With Ghostbusters: Afterlife only a few months away, it’s more than likely that we’ll be seeing more in the way of trailers really soon. Over the past two years, we’ve had one teaser, a full trailer, and more recently a snippet featuring Paul Rudd’s character Mr. Grooberson and the 'MiniPufts'. While none of the trailers give too much away – which is never a bad thing – there are still some big clues staring us right in the face about who the film’s main villain could be. So, who is the villain in Ghostbusters: Afterlife?
The first thing we need to do is look back at the first two movies, examine the new trailer, and look at everything that’s already been confirmed about Ghostbusters: Afterlife, while making our own predictions about the upcoming installment – well-informed ones, of course. The original film, set in 1984 New York, saw the formation of the Ghostbusters. And their timing couldn't have been better, with paranormal activity in Manhattan suddenly at an all-time high – although this ‘coincidence’ only heightened the suspicions of a certain Walter Peck. But was it really a coincidence?
The main catalyst for the characters’ decision to become Ghostbusters in the first place was their encounter with the Librarian Ghost. Then, once they're established, they captured Slimer at the Sedgewick Hotel, followed by a montage of ghost-busting across the city, an indicator that paranormal activity was most definitely on the rise. So, while it might seem convenient to both viewers and on-screen New Yorkers, that the ghosts only start emerging once the Ghostbusters appear, there's actually more to this than meets the eye.
In the film, we learn that these are the events that precede the arrival of Gozer – a Demigod also known as the ‘Destructor’. To bring Gozer forth, their minions, the Gatekeeper and the Keymaster – on this occasion, Dana Barrett and Louis Tully – must ‘unite’ and create a gateway for Gozer to enter the human world. However, the stage was set for Gozer long before the events of 1984, with architect Ivo Shandor having built Dana's apartment building to serve as a conduit between our world and other dimensions, thus lighting up Manhattan like a beacon for supernatural beings, hence the surge in ghostly goings-on.
The 1989 sequel follows a similar concept, with the build-up of 'psychomagnotheric' slime (or ‘mood slime’) that’s running beneath Manhattan, which is the result of highly concentrated negative energy, allowing for the presence of more supernatural entities, and which is why Vigo the Carpathian is able to emerge from his painting. Ghostbusters: The Video Game – touted as an "official sequel" to the films – actually expands on the concepts and mythology established by its predecessors, and its main villain is Ivo Shandor, the Gozerian cultist, and architect.
But what does any of this have to do with Ghostbusters: Afterlife? Bypassing the initial teaser, which showed us a rusty Ecto-1 beneath a tarp in an old barn, we’ll jump straight to the main trailer for the upcoming sequel. Check it out below:
As tends to be the case with threequels, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is clearly going back to the beginning, with plenty of references to the first movie that back this up, from "spores, molds, and fungus" to familiar narrations about fate, luck, and karma. But what clues are there about who the villain might be? Nothing concrete is revealed, but the first thing worth calling out is the mineshaft – which seems to be a focal point of the film, seeing as something strange emerges from it and that the town is being plagued by inexplicable earthquakes. Above the mineshaft, we see a sign that reads “Shandor Mining Co”.
We learn in Ghostbusters: The Video Game that Shandor built several buildings in Manhattan for his purpose of summoning Gozer. So it’s likely his projects ventured way beyond New York, as it looks like he also had the Summerville mines built. There’s another clue that links back to the first movie too, in the form of a tower of books not unlike the one in the original film. In the trailer, we see this in the background during an earthquake scene where Callie, Trevor, and Phoebe hide under the table. It could be an easter egg, but the game also reveals that the Librarian Ghost is actually reading the 'Gozerian Codex'.
As the trailer winds to a close, we see something big landing on the bonnet of a car Mr. Grooberson appears to be hiding in, whose black, clawed feet look like they belong to a Terror Dog, one of Gozer’s minions, the Keymaster or the Gatekeeper. These creatures aren’t just throwaway entities that a filmmaker can bring back for fun – they’re plot-specific characters. And the final clue is the most recent teaser trailer itself – the MiniPufts. Like the Terror Dogs, the StayPuft, no matter his size, is attributed to Gozer. In fact, he is Gozer, having been manifested by Ray Stantz in the original.
As for the plot of the new film, we know that the main family is related to Egon Spengler, who has now passed away. The farmhouse he has left his family seems to be hiding in a basement that stores all the Ghostbusters equipment, including the proton packs and ghost traps. So the question is: did Egon also move the Ecto-Containment Unit, and has it since broken down, and its inhabitants are now causing all the earthquakes? Or do the quakes have something to do with the Shandor Mines, and is this the reason Egon chose to move to Summerville in the first place, to do some investigating?
Either scenario points back to Ivo Shandor, and each is also an element borrowed from Ghostbusters: The Video Game (whether intentional or not), in which the Ecto-Containment Unit accidentally opens during a supernatural shockwave, releasing lots of familiar ghosts, while the fruits of Shandor’s architectural labors are revealed - that he was behind several buildings in New York.
With all that said, the only villains that have been confirmed for Ghostbusters: Afterlife so far is 'Muncher', a ghost that appears to be the new movie’s answer to Slimer, and the MiniPufts. But there’s simply no way that the hidden creature isn’t a Terror Dog hunting Mr. Grooberson, nor could a human being have stacked those books. However, several original cast members are returning, which is another element that ties back to the original. It's not like they can pop up in cameos, especially seeing as the film is now set in a new location, so it's likely their roles in the film are going to be more integral to the plot.
On June 8, to celebrate ‘Ghostbusters Day’, the cast and crew of the new film spoke with IGN during a live Q&A on Twitter Spaces. While the film’s new location, new characters, and family-centric themes were discussed, there was no real talk of the villains, so it’s likely this is being kept under cloak and dagger. Either way, we've got our money on Gozer - or at the very least, Ivo Shandor, being the film's main villain. But whoever it is, here's to hoping that the new film isn't too family-friendly and finds that perfect balance of comedy and horror that the original did so well.