Directed By: Adam Stovall
Starring: MacLeod Andrews, Natalie Walker, Adam Stovall
Disclaimer: Arrow Video has provided me with a copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections.
I love how in recent years filmmakers have tried to re-invent the haunted house story, a genre that, has been done to death. In the tradition of A Ghost Story (2017) A Ghost Waits (2020) puts a somber twist on the typical 'bump-in-the-night offering. A avenge joe named Jack (Macleod Andrews) who works at a cleaning company gets a job at an infamous house that tenants tend to not stay very long. Durning his work he is visited by a spirit. But, instead of becoming scared and running off he strikes up an unlikely friendship.
A Ghost Waits feels like if Kevin Smith's quirky-DIY-black-and-white Clerks (1994) met Beetlejuice (1988) and grew up to be a emo-romantic. I will say that this movie is...interesting, its not exactly the un-sung masterpiece that the hyperbolic crowd are proclaiming it to be, in my opinion, but I do see the value in it. As a charming, heartbreaking and thought-provoking film I think it works well. The story is painfully relatable and, is brought to life by MacLeod Andrews. Wisely, director Adam Stovall gives Jack some fun, small personal moments before anything really weird happens. This I think goes a long way in making us feel engaged with his character and, thus we are fully on his side. For example, to assume himself while cleaning a toilet he moves the lids and makes a voice, making it a character.
It sounds strange but its quite endearing. And, then you have Muriel played to perfection by Natalie Walker. Walker, like Andrews is the key to this emotional and humorous film and is subtle and spellbinding. Moreover, the pair work really well together and have a chemistry that is the glue to this piece.
I also loved the filmmakers dry, sardonic humor which is maybe my favorite form of comedy. And, this movie is a romance, but in a bleak, Goth-kid kind of way. Its sincerely written and thankfully the screenwriters (Adam Stovall and lead MacLeod Andrews) take this concept and completely run with it without ever feeling like they are ashamed of its novelty or worldbuilding. A lesser director might not have had the confidence to see this through to the end. It wears its bloody-spectral heart on it's sleeve and I adore it for that.
I think the world-building for a film like this is so important and, I don't think it quite sticks the landing. Stovall does a novel job at setting up a world that certainly feels inspired by the humorous bureaucratic world of the after-life of Beetlejuice. Aside from this being slightly divertive (which I can let slide) I still think that more sly humor could have been mined from exploring this world a bit more. And, you might say that the love story is what matters (and yes, that's correct), I still think if you present a world you should flesh it out more. I also have mixed feelings about the finale, which, obviously I cannot discuss and remain spoiler free. And, whilst I overall enjoyed the writing there are some shaggy narrative and dialogue.
A Ghost Waits is a film that is deep, interesting and held together by its two-leads. Its a film that fuses romance, horror, and dry comedy. It's a tricky balance and whilst I think its far from a perfect film it was one that made me feel, think and engaged me in a profound way. It's not perfect but it is worth a watch.
Picture: A Ghost Waits looks great on 1080p. The low-fi charms translates well on HD and the picture retains a lot of clarity in locales, costumes and sets. The black-and-white tones are well managed and offers a nice contrast that is pleasing to the eyes.
Sound: Ghost Waits has a DTS 2.0 track. Score, music and sound design as well as dialogue all comes out clear without any issues like drop out.
Extras: Arrow always does a fantastic job with showcasing an array of extras. This is especially nice for smaller films like Ghost Waits to get an A-plus treatment. Included is: A commentary by director Adam Stovall, a commentary with Stovall and MacLeod Andrews (star and co-writer), commentary by cast and crew. A video essay entitled Humanity and the Afterlife by Isabel Custodio, Eight interviews with cast and crew moderated by tt stern-enzi, Interview and post- film Q&A with Adam Stovall moderated by Alan Jones at Frightfest at Glasgow 2020, Outtakes, Theatrical Trailer, image gallery and Easter eggs. First press includes a booklet with an essay entitled Worked to Death (and Beyond): A Ghost Waits in a Capitalist World.