Back in my review for Don’t Let them In, I explained why I willingly watch so many low budget and indie films. It’s because every now and again you come across something properly good, the diamond in the rough. For every Astro, there’s Solis. For every Winterskin, there’s Velocipastor. Today’s film, A Ghost Waits? It’s one of the good ones.
Brought to us by the team of Adam Stovall (who dons hats for writing, directing and acting!), MacLeod Andrews (actor and writer) and Matt Taylor (writer), this is the story of Jack (MacLeod Andrews) and Muriel (Natalie Walker). It’s the classic story of living boy meets dead girl, when Jack is sent to a house that the previous tenants abruptly left, to make sure that it’s all ready to go for the next tenants.
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Unbeknownst to him, the previous tenants all fled because the house is haunted by the gho… I’m sorry, the “Spectral Agent” called Muriel, who is perturbed to find that Jack refuses to leave her house no matter how hard she tries to scare him off. Muriel’s boss Ms Henry (Amanda Miller) is unimpressed by Muriel’s inability to get Jack to leave and demands that she try harder. Will she be able to truly scare Jack off? Will Jack complete his job no matter what? You’ll just need to watch the movie to find out – and we really, really do recommend that you watch this film.
As well as being a genuinely laugh-out-loud funny film, A Ghost Waits takes a look at what it’s like to be an adult in this modern world, where we can connect more easily with the people around us and yet can feel all the more alone and ignored because of it. It looks at the WHY of modern life without coming across as heavy handed, while also poking fun at the tropes and conventions of the films that inspired it and its contemporaries in modern horror. Just look at the different approaches Muriel and Rosie (Sydney Vollmer) take to trying to scare Jack away. One is all about existential dread and personal fears while the other is – well… Not that.
Filmed in black and white with what I can only assume is a fairly small budget, it’s entirely set in the confines of the house; the furthest it ventures away from it is the deck outside. The story is entirely dependent on the performances of Jack and Muriel and whether or not you believe and empathise with them. Here the movie delivers in spades. MacLeod Andrews portrays Jack as the archetypical everyman, both a nobody but at the same time representative of all of us as we struggle with the responsibilities of adult life and that need to connect to the people around us. Jack doesn’t know why he does the things he does, he just gets on with it because that’s what life expects of him. A situation likely relevant to many of us.
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The same can be said for Muriel. Even in death there is still a job to be done, a purpose to be found or pressed onto us. Why does she drive people from the house? Because it’s what she was told to do. Why was she told to do it? Because scaring people away is just what ghosts do, what they have always done, and it’s a job she took a great deal of satisfaction from until Jack showed up to disrupt her pre-ordained path through eternity.
A Ghost Waits is the lovechild of Beetlejuice and Ghost and it was a delight to watch. It has already been picked up by the fine fellows over at Arrow and will arrive on their streaming service in February. Should you watch it? GOD YES. Do you like black comedy? Do you like ghost stories? Do you like romance? If you like any or all of these, check this out. It will also be getting a Blu-ray release later this year and we can wholeheartedly recommend a purchase. Why? Because not only is it a great film, it’s a great film from a first time director. If we buy his film, then hopefully he’ll make more! I, for one, would love to see more from Mr Stovall.
A Ghost Waits is out now on ARROW.