Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire Director Explains the Origins of New Villain Garraka

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ghostbusters:-frozen-empire-director-explains-the-origins-of-new-villain-garraka

This article contains some Ghostbusters: forzen empire spoilers.

You know about Zuul. You know about Gozer. You know about Vigo the Carpathian. You might even know about Dr. Rowan North. But for Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, director Gil Kenan needed to pit the next generation of Ghostbusters against an all-new spook we’ve never seen before.

“You don’t get many opportunities in this world to create a Ghostbusters villain. And I took on that role with relish,” Kenan tells Den of Geek. That enthusiasm resulted in Garraka, a horned creature who can not only cover the world in ice but also controls other ghosts with a type of telepathy. To defeat this threat, the Ghostbusters need more than their tools and their talent. They must also get help from the slacker Nadeem (Kumail Nanjiani), who happens to be the last in a line of ancinet warriors called Fire Masters, the only beings who can counter Garraka’s icy attack.

“I was born to bring Garraka to the screen,” Kenan declares, pointing to his childhood love of drawing monsters. “All of my math textbooks, science textbooks throughout middle school and high school are basically panopticons, and just full of multi-eyed horned creatures with long fingernails.” Kenan carried that habit into the filming of Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, first sketching the entity while he and Jason Reitman wrote the script. His first sketches became “the template for the character that you met in the film.”

However, Kenan didn’t just rely on quick sketches to come up with a baddie that could initiate a new Ice Age. He also did research at the British Museum’s Hall of Antiquities where he discovered that ancient peoples had unique ideas about metal. These early craftspeople believed that metals had “special material properties,” Kenan explains. In particular, they believed in “the power of objects to contain spirits or stories.” And those objects have now become “artifacts [that] can survive thousands of years.”

In Frozen Empire, the primary object is a brass ball that Nadeem finds among his grandmother’s possessions. When Nadeem, a huckster who would do anything for money, tries to pawn the ball off to Ray Stanz (Dan Aykroyd), he puts the Ghostbusters on the case. Yet while Nadeem’s arrival at Ray’s bookstore may bring the surviving original Ghostbusters back to work, Kenan and Reitman are more interested in moving the world of ‘busting into the future. Hence after completing “the story of Egon’s unfinished business” Ghostbusters: Afterlife, he and Rietman had “a wide open canvas to go really lethal with our antagonist.”

Such wide possibility brought unique challenges with it, which required “mining both old and new mythology.” Kenan’s research into ancient metals resulted in some cool designs for the Fire Masters and also an important thematic point for Frozen Empire. In the same way that the brass ball contains the evil Garraka, the Ghostbusters use traps and containment units to interact with the spooks they hunt. Ancient metals thus “felt uniquely connected to Ghostbusters, which has such a tactile sense,” observes Kenan. “These proton packs, part of the reason that they have become such iconic props in these stories is not just that they’re like really fucking cool, but also that they feel like something as an audience member you can interact with. You can sort of imagine the weight of it on your back.”

The tactile nature of the brass ball and the Ghostbusters machinery stems from Kenan’s experiences in the Hall of Antiquities. “Just feeling the charge of ancient objects and the stories that they could hold… felt like such a great starting point for creating a villain that has a story, a tragedy, a base note at the center of them.”

Beyond museum research, Kenan also got some help from Aykroyd, whose expertise in the paranormal inspired writing the initial Ghostbusters script. But Kenan himself has experiences with the unexplained that influences his understanding of the metaphysical. Kenan shares with Den of Geek a moment as a child in which he left his body and encountered his deceased relatives.

“It was never frightening, I never felt like I was in danger, I didn’t feel like I was close to death, but it didn’t feel like a moment where there was some connection to folks that were no longer in the land of the living, and it was one that stayed with me,” says Kenan. “I do feel like if there is any sort of authenticity, the emotional sensitivity to ghosts in this film… was sort of born in that moment for me.”

As Kenan explains to Den of Geek, that youthful encounter with the unexplained was a key attraction to the first Ghostbusters, and something he wanted to recreate with his film. “I was way too young to see it, but it totally got me,” says Kenan of the 1984 movie. “It scared me too. I remember the experience of seeing it in a movie theater and feeling really terrified and loving every second of it.”

So when he and Reitman set about designing Garraka, they sought to recreate that experience for kids of today. “Something that I thought about in directing this film was tapping into the same experience I had watching the first film for the first time and remembering that there was a sort of danger that the film could communicate—a sense that maybe the ground under you wasn’t so stable.”

If Kenan can pull off that sense of danger for Gen Z kids, then Garraka will become the next ghostly name that everyone knows.

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire is in theaters now.

The post Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire Director Explains the Origins of New Villain Garraka appeared first on Den of Geek.

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