Ghosting: The Spirit of Christmas (2019)

The folks at Freeform take some chances with Ghosting: The Spirit of Christmas. The movie is a wild spin – and one you must watch to the very end – but it also has a sticky-sweet heart that’s right for Christmas or any time of the year. The film skews towards a younger audience, but even I, of the pre-millennial group, have zero regrets about stumbling across it during a commercial break. This definitely beats all the party planner Christmas movies I’ve been watching with a story that is equal parts wacky and touching. Also, the lead cast are tops and the diversity is a fine, blessed flourish.

Aisha Dee and Kimiko Glenn play Jess and Kara. The best friends are trying to live their best lives in L.A. but still have a few things to figure out. Jess hops from job to job and loses yet another when she pushes female Santa cookies at the bakery where she works. Kara has more of a handle on her employment, brewing tea at a health food chain while concocting her own blends on the side. A hot date changes everything though, as in Jess dies. Her untimely end comes when she checks her phone after spending a night out with Ben (Kendrick Sampson), so yes, you’re also getting an anti-texting-and-driving PSA.

Poor Ben thinks Jess has ghosted him only to realize that’s literally what she’s done. At least they get a second date, which is weird because no one except him and Kara can see her. Cue some ghost-related humor, like Ben talking to himself and the couple trying to figure out if human-ghost sex is a thing. Some of the scenes feel like forced comedy bits, and the plot sticks to a conventional problem of Jess trying to figure out what she needs to do to cross over. However, this supernatural element also pushes the story and its characters into some unexpected emotional territory. Though Jess and Ben hardly know each other, their love is raw and intense. Something about knowing your time together is limited makes love run deeper than infatuation. Of course it doesn’t hurt when the other person is drop-dead gorgeous (and not a murderer).

Jess’s friend also gets in on the romance. Kara partners with Ben’s psychology student sister, Mae (Jazz Raycole), who thinks the two of them have dreamt up some batty coping mechanism by talking to invisible Jess. This relationship feels more contrived, as if the two are thrown together for convenience’s sake. Glenn and Raycole don’t have great romantic chemistry either, but both still carve out some room for their characters to grow. Kara and Mae counter Jess and Ben’s passion with something more grounded in the realities of, well, living.

The most satisfying love though is the one between Jess and Kara. Besides being effortlessly cool, they have a bond that literally transcends death. This isn’t just a story about Jess finding love but also one about Kara finding purpose. They support each other to those ends, holding the other to account even when it seems like it doesn’t matter anymore. They also share some of the most poignant moments in the film, when they say heartfelt goodbyes not knowing if it will be the last. Dee and Glenn are such refreshing choices for these two women. The actors portray their characters with such honesty, and Jess and Kara have a friendship that really capture all the messiness of young adulthood.

Released: 2019
Dir: Theresa Bennett
Writer: Laura Donney
Cast: Aisha Dee, Kimiko Glenn, Kendrick Sampson, Jazz Raycole, Missi Pyle
Time: 87 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Network: Freeform
Reviewed: 2020