Directed by: Adam Stovall. Starring: MacLeod Andrews, Natalie Walker, Sydney Vollmer. Runtime: 1h 20 min. Released: This film is currently playing as a part of Popcorn Frights’ Wicked Weekend.
In the unconventional love story A Ghost Waits, Jack (MacLeod Andrews) is a handyman tasked with fixing up a house before the new tenants can move in. Once there, he learns the house is haunted by a spirit named Muriel (Natalie Walker). Muriel works as a “spectral agents,” ghosts that are stationed in homes and they’re tasked with scaring people away, because it is what they do.
Writer and director Adam Stovall’s setup of the film is interesting, tenderly creating a sense of belonging between these two characters, while also stressing a sense of belonging for these characters in general. This is especially the case in a sweet scene where Muriel talks about her home, and it is heartwarming how she talks about her home, that she desires a place to call her own. How these characters connect because of their loneliness is the beating heart of the film.
I loved the heart here, especially with just montages of them talking and getting to know each other. The chemistry between Andrews as Jack and Walker as Muriel is really what sells this aspect of the film, especially with their natural acting. Stovall’s intimate direction lends to this well, too, especially when Jack picks up a guitar and sings a song, and Muriel steps creeps in. Since she’s a ghost, the way this scene is handled is a good example of when the film mixes the eerie and the beautiful. Other aspects that really complement the romance is the great music, especially a memorable scene that features The Bengsons’ “Years Go By.”
As a horror film, A Ghost Waits is eerie when it wants to be, too, especially when Muriel tries to haunt Jack out of the home, and the sound of babies crying is creepy. What’s more interesting though is the aspect of spectral agents and how they’re tasked with creating a haunting and learning what scares their victims. There’s a bit of welcome humour in some of these scenes, too, and dry humour elsewhere throughout the film.
The whole aspect of the check-in centre for ghosts where they give progress reports – and where Muriel has a reputation for being among the best at what she does. This brings about an interesting mentorship with a new up-and-coming ghost called Rosie (Sydney Vollmer), since Muriel hasn’t been able to scare Jack out of her home yet.
While the film is never ground breaking, it’s a strong effort all around with some memorable direction and shots, and a story that has its fair share of creepy and emotional moments, weaving between them with ease. Stovall can always shift gears naturally, and this ongoing balance works, though I consider this to have a bigger focus on the romantic side, just within a supernatural tale. The film’s all gorgeously shot by Michael C. Potter, too, and the film looks great in black and white.