A Ghost Waits


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

A Ghost Waits
"There's a melancholy undercurrent to the tale throughout, but that only makes its upbeat moments more delightful."

Sometimes a film come along that takes a simple idea and plays it out with such sweetness and sincerity, even through the medium of comedy, that it's impossible not to like. Adam Stovall's directorial d├ębut A Ghost Waits was a massive hit with the audience at this year's Glasgow Film Festival and it was no surprise when it was selected to play as part of the Frightfest main event. It's proof that horror doesn't always need to focus on thrills, chills or gore. There's room for a little playfulness and even for romance.

Jack (MacLeod Andrews) is not a man who has had a great deal of luck when it comes to romance. Perhaps it's his itinerant lifestyle that does it, as he travels from place to place to deep clean houses in preparation for sale, or perhaps he's just never met the right woman. The house he's been assigned to clean now as apparently never met the right owner, with several families leaving in quick succession - but there's a reason for that. As he's about to find out, it's haunted by a hardworking, proud ghost who is determined to maintain her record - but his reaction to her is not what she's used to at all.

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Looked at one way, A Ghost Waits is a shattering meditation on the futility of existence, but that doesn't mean there's nothing there to laugh about, right? Lulling us in with gentle humour as Muriel (Natalie Walker), the ghost, becomes increasingly frustrated by Jack's failure to notice her poltergeist activity, Stovall's film slowly transforms into the story of a man discovering meaning somewhere he never expected to. Before long, Muriel has given up on subtlety and started confronting him directly, but he's just not scared - one imagines that professional cleaners see far more disturbing things as a matter of routine. So they give up the act and get talking, and it soon becomes apparent that love is on the cards. There's just one problem - Muriel's boss.

Though it would be impossible to avoid comparisons with Beetlejuice, with which it shares some key ideas, this is a very different proposition. Michael C Potter's heavily textured black and white cinematography helps to create a sense of timelessness despite the modern setting. Muriel's formal garb signifies her association with another age but she has to remind Jack of their age difference. There's a melancholy undercurrent to the tale throughout, but that only makes its upbeat moments more delightful.

With delicate, affecting performances from its two leads, A Ghost Waits is a pleasure from start to finish and a wonderful example of what's possible on a small budget with just a little imagination.

Reviewed on: 31 Aug 2020
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A Ghost Waits packshot
A man's job requires him to clean a house, which turns out to be haunted. In the course of trying to exorcise the ghost, he falls in love with her.
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Director: Adam Stovall

Writer: Adam Stovall

Starring: MacLeod Andrews, Natalie Walker, Sydney Vollmer, Amanda Miller

Year: 2020

Runtime: 120 minutes

Country: US

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