A GHOST WAITS (2020)
Directed by Adam Stovall.
Written by MacLeod Andrews, Adam Stovall, Matt Taylor.
Starring MacLeod Andrews, Natalie Walker, Sydney Vollmer, Amanda Miller, Adam Stovall
Find out more about this film here!
Jack (MacLeod Andrews) has a job to do. He inspects apartments to make sure they are up to code after the previous renter leaves so a new renter can move in. But the new apartment he is inspecting happens to be haunted by a ghost named Muriel (Natalie Walker) who also has a job to do; scare people out of the apartment. Though their respective jobs seem to oppose one another, when Jack refuses to be scared away, Muriel and him begin to chat and find out they kind of like spending time with each other. This is against the rules and means trouble for both of them.
A GHOST WAITS feels like a stage play expanded slightly to fit feature length and scope. It’s story is a compelling one—mixing a comedy with the supernatural and comes up with a tone reminiscent of CLERKS meets BEETLEJUICE. A nice little subsystem is given to the afterlife, as Muriel goes to her superior in what looks to be a typical government office to complain about the new tenant who refuses to be scared off. It’s quirky and fun seeing the afterlife represented in such a banal and organized way given the supernatural situation. At the same time there are some comical moments as Jack bumbles around oblivious to the haunts and then unfazed because he is dedicated to his job. I can see why this film would get the greenlight and people behind it. The premise—two work-minded folks learn to look at their similarities and end up falling for each other, is fun and one that has been used in many romantic comedies in the past.
I wish A GHOST WAITS would have leaned into both the comedy and the supernatural a bit more. I understand that this is a low budget film and the effects are at a bare minimum here. While the film’s black and white coloring might be trying to add to the ambiance, it just really lacks any of that oompf that a comedy horror mashup like BEETLEJUICE had. While that was a funny film, BEETLEJUICE was still scary in places. It was also extremely funny. And while the situation is amusing, I felt I wasn’t laughing more often than I was, which makes for an odd experience given that this is supposed to be a comedy.
What A GHOST WAITS does lean far into is the romance and that I think is the mistake. After one conversation between Jack and Muriel, the two seem to have fallen deeply in love with one another, so much in love that moments later when they are separated, both break down into puddles of tears when Muriel is forced to leave because of her job responsibilities. I understand that operatics are amped up in romance films and maybe I’m just a jaded human being, but I just didn’t buy the relationship was that deep after one interaction. It all crescendos to a questionable ending.
SPOILER WARNING: The ending is dark and I like dark, but in this day and age, where suicide is such a sensitive issue, I think the way this film ends feels too insensitive and futile. I think for a film that doesn’t want to dive deep into horror and wants to keep things charmingly funny and romantical, it’s just too fluffy to support the heavy ending we got. SPOILER WARNING OVER.
A GHOST WAITS is a low budgeter that has a lot of heart put into it and I do respect what it is trying to do. It’s not scary. It’s charming, but not over the top funny. The leads are both surprisingly good and hopefully, I’ll see more of them in other things. It all feels a bit uneven and unfocused on what it’s trying to say in the end.