Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

A creepy comedy in the vein of classics such as Beetlejuice and Casper, The Ghastly Brothers is a collaboration between two real-life brothers: director, writer, and star Michael Van Ostade, with co-writer and costar, Andrew James Van Ostade. This dark Belgian comedy reminds us that the scariest thing of all are the inner demons resting inside. Styled and scored as if an Amblin Entertainment film, The Ghastly Brothers is sure to both delight families, and serve as proper gateway horror for younger viewers in the years to come.

The aptly named Ghastly Brothers have made it their life’s work serving as professional ghost hunters, and purveyors of the supernatural. They craft inventions that would make Luigi’s Mansion’s Professor E. Gadd giggle with glee, including goggles dubbed “The Sixth Sensor” to help make visible the unseen spirits, and “MUSAC,” the Musically Universal Sound Absorbing Containment unit, which serves to seal the unnerving distraction of monster sounds away where they rightfully belong. Saint Raimi boarding school may serve to be the brothers’ biggest challenge yet…

Our lead character is a fiercely intelligent little girl named Lily (Eva Luna Van Hijfte), forced to attend Saint Raimi as her mother must pursue the study of a rare bird off in New Zealand. Lily instantly makes friends, and begins to notice over the course of several days weird shadows that are protruding from their bodies. Desperate to know what is going on with her newfound pals and homesick for her mother’s love, dreaming and aspiring ghost hunter Lily makes a call to the only people she feels could help her: the Ghastly Brothers!

The spooky, translucent spirits at least look spectacular, with a giant laundry monster channeling serious Scooby-Doo Luna Ghost vibes, and others resembling something one would see in Ghostbusters. The Ghastly Brothers have never seen anything like these inner demons, which Lily soon dubs Emons. These emotion-feasting demons simply must be stopped to bring down this ultimate demonic force! Possession, demon chairs, ghost-hunting, and bird-egg-watching, oh my—with an infinite number of ghostly possibilities, the sequel opportunities are endless!

The Ghastly Brothers was better than I was expecting on every imaginable level. A hilarious finale scene in which the brothers endlessly try to guess the name of the demon, including Voldemort and Gozer, was a smart way to pay tribute to a couple of its inspirations. The creators here clearly have a deep love for 80s and 90s ghost flicks, and wear the influences like a badge of honor. I can easily see The Ghastly Brothers gaining a cult status, or perhaps even having an American remake that would spread the net of influence even wider.

The Ghastly Brothers screened at the 2022 Seattle International Film Festival.

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