We Have a Ghost follows a family whose fourth (or maybe fifth) chance at a fresh start is flung into a frenzy after discovering a ghost in their new, fixer-upper home in Chicago. The specter is played by David Harbour (Stranger Things), who sports a supernaturally thin combover and a bowling shirt that reads Ernest. Scared? Stupid is more like it in the latest from writer-director Christopher Landon, previously of the Happy Death Day and Paranormal Activity franchises.

Running 115 minutes before credits and streaming Friday on Netflix, Ghost is certainly among the service’s more painfully protracted productions — particularly given its primarily preteen audience. A surplus of superfluous subplots only supports performers du jour picked to play a slap-happy medium (Jennifer Coolidge) and a sinister parapsychological spy (Tig Notaro). Coolidge turns up for two minutes of throwaway tomfoolery and takes her leave. As in Army of the Dead, Netflix once again buries Notaro’s comic gift beneath genre foolishness; someone suffering from uncontrollable diarrhea would bear a less pained expression than Notaro as she shouts: “Go to thermal! Light him up!”

The only intriguing wrinkle: Ernest can neither speak nor remember his life … or death. Despite a spotty film career, Harbour rarely plays things safe or simple. With barely a sound, the actor holds together what little that works in Ghost, expressing mute frustration at his failure to communicate and unexpectedly joyous exhilaration as the mystery surrounding his death leads him far from the house he haunts — accompanied by sensitive teenager and newfound friend Kevin (Jahi Winston, who capably co-anchors the film’s finest moments along with Harbour). 

Landon occasionally nails the feeling that we have found ourselves in a crazy world to somebody oughta sell tickets; after all, there have arguably been weirder real-world TV-news headlines than “Ghost Kidnaps Teens, Parents Plea for Safe Return.” And this is most certainly the sweetest confection Landon has yet composed. But almost on a hairpin whim, he dedicates the final act to a decidedly dark, and often laughably ludicrous, denouement before a final moment composer Bear McCreary muffs with a maudlin orchestral score.

Landon tries to parallel Ernest’s paranormal pursuit of purpose with that of Kevin’s father, Frank (Anthony Mackie), who has felt adrift as a provider and protector since Kevin and his brother, Fulton (Niles Fitch), aged out of toddler cuteness. The double meaning is, after all, right there in the title, and perhaps there’s a version of We Have a Ghost that keys into a notion that lingering in past regret is not exclusively the domain of the dead disturbed by what they left behind. But it would have to be one that does not interrupt momentum to have Coolidge scream loudly or Notaro die a bit inside as she spouts so much bureaucratic blather. Or one that omits weird and atonal digs at furries as well as a montage of go-nowhere social-media satire. Certainly one where a gifted performer like Mackie isn’t saddled with a mawkish monologue that sounds nothing like what a struggling dad would say … or lines like “Kiss my ass, PewDiePie!” as he chases viral fame with Ernest.

So yeah, We Have a Ghost has a ghost. It also has too many other things that are far more frighteningly dull than they should be.