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Glasgow FrightFest 2020: A Ghost Waits

Director: Adam Stovall

Writers: Adam Stovall, story by Adam Stovall & Matt Taylor

Starring: MacLeod Andrews, Natalie Walker, Sydney Vollmer


Jack's job is to fix up the house. Spectral agent Muriel's eternal task is to haunt it. They should be enemies but they become fascinated by one another and eventually smitten, leading them to question everything about their work, lives, and decisions. But as pressure mounts for them to fulfil their duties, something’s got to give for them to have the time together they both so desperately want.


INTITIAL REACTION


K.  A Ghost Waits opens as a family is scared out of their rental house by an unseen ghost.  Then Jack (MacLeod Andrews) arrives to clean the place up and prep it for new renters.  Since his apartment is being fumigated and his friends flake out on him, he ends up staying there and discovers the house is haunted. The film drags a bit in the first act, before Jack meets Muriel (Natalie Walker).  Though Macleod Andrews has a natural charm and light comedic touch that go a long way.  Once Muriel arrives the film really takes off with humor and a goofy aping of ghost story tropes.  This is where it really shines. It was obviously made on a very low budget, this shows particularly in the production design and cinematography.  The lighting and ghost makeup are effective and fun.  The chemistry between Andrews and Walker makes their connection believable.  I found myself rooting for them to get together. It does feel a bit like a short or Youtube sketch dragged out to feature length and it’s not perfect, obviously.  But if you can look past some of the shortcomings in production value and the slow opening, it’s a fun, light-hearted ghost rom-com. C. And the winner for the most heartwarming movie we’ve reviewed goes to… A Ghost Waits.  It kind of feels like someone was inspired by those bureaucracy scenes in Beetlejuice and then made an indie romantic comedy. I don’t know how much most horror fans will dig this but I did. It’s one of those offbeat projects that you want to support despite some big flaws but the emotional authenticity of finding purpose was enough to keep me invested. That being said every element, from the script, direction, technical quality (sound, cinematography, editing, all of it), and even acting feels clunky at many times. There’s no doubt that this was done on a low budget with the filmmaker calling in a lot of favors. While I hate using this criticism (because you could say it with anything), if there was a little bit bigger budget and in more equipped hands this would be a riot. Easily becoming a festival favorite of mine however, that wasn’t the case. While I can normally forgive a lot of things, a pet peeve of mine in this era of comedies is the use of improv. Now, I love improv, I’ve trained in it and I’ll still try to catch shows when I can. Many examples can be made of it working wonders but if not in the right hands, improv does not always transition to film well. You have to deal with the continuity of editing, it can create moments that last a couple beats too long and it can feel like an inside joke. Several moments within the movie hit that point where I bet it was hilarious on set but it doesn’t transfer to a viewer who isn’t a friend or family member. Though I will say once Jack becomes aware of the ghost (or spectral agent) this doesn’t become much of an issue anymore. Maybe I’m the sentimental one of the group but what started off as groans ended with me enjoying myself. Also,  J.  It’s a ghost rom-com!  I thought this film was pretty funny, charming and a little heartfelt as well.  The actor who plays Jack, MacLeod Andrews reminded me a lot of Leigh Whannel, not only in physical appearance but his acting style too.  He’s fairly aloof and once he’s aware there’s a ghost in the house, he really doesn’t give a shit which was hilarious to me.  The comedy bits work well and I almost wished there was more of it.  Jack slamming closed a cabinet door that Muriel keeps opening while proclaiming, “NOPE!” was terrific.  Also Jack’s bit making the toilet talk to him was hilarious too and the written monologue was smart as hell too.  You could see that Jack and Muriel were going to fall for one another and that’s totally fine because come on, they’re essentially the only characters in it and you learn that they share a lot in common too.  Ripe for a budding romance.  I was a little surprised at how this thing ended, which I’m not going to spoil here but there’s a little bit of an epilogue that makes things warm and fuzzy again.  This isn’t my kind of thing but I thought it was great and it was an innovative way of doing this type of cross genre thing.  Another great bit of comedy from Jack that I’ll leave you with: after he runs out of the house, terrified and gets into his car, he realizes he doesn’t have his keys and the only thing he can think to do is scream - FUCK YOU GHOST!


RESPONSE

C. Based on what we’ve been watching at this festival and in general, A Ghost Waits is peak cute silliness but don’t worry, it’s purposeful. It does meander. At a technical level it’s more clunky than a lot of stuff we’ve rated a lot lower. But I gotta hand it to the movie in giving us a breath of fresh air that’ll leave a heartfelt smirk on your face. If it doesn’t then I don’t know what to tell you, maybe take a break from rewatching Cannibal Holocaust and find something that makes you stop to smell the roses. J. My colleagues have pointed out some of the issues with A Ghost Waits and while I won’t say they’re wrong, if you know going in what we didn’t, you’ll have a fine time with this one.  As I previously stated, this isn’t really my thing but MacLeod Andrews’ resemblance to Leigh Whannell and the comedy bits (that work) were enough to keep me entertained.  The fact that there were some genuinely sincere, heartfelt moments and a conclusion that I wasn’t really expecting all made A Ghost Waits worth a watch in my view.  K.  We’re all on the same page here it seems.  While it’s got it’s fair share of problems and shortcomings, the heart on display wins out in the end.  If this sounds up your alley, it’s worth a watch. Bloodhound’s average score: 3 out of 5