GORE IN THE STORE
A GHOST WAITS ****
Directed by Adam Stovall. Starring MacLeod Andrews, Natalie Walker.
Horror, U.S. 80 minutes.
Reviewed as part of the Arrow Video FrightFest Glasgow, March 2020.
With its world premiere at FrightFest Glasgow, A GHOST WAITS was quite a singular experience. Debut writer and director Adam Stovall's post-film Q&A with Alan Jones touched not only on his struggles with low budget filmmaking and his love for cinema but mental health too. The audience, already more than receptive after viewing this charming, funny and sad tale of loneliness and the afterlife, gave one of the most heartfelt rounds of applause that clearly affected the director in return. Never have I seen a director give out and receive so many hugs to clearly affected viewers. Glasgow's known for a lot of things and mass hugging certainly isn't one of them, so a chord was struck.
Filmed in black and white, A GHOST WAITS comes across like a lo-fi 90's slacker comedy mixed up with concepts familiar from BEETLEJUICE and ghosts that have wandered over from CARNIVAL OF SOULS. MacLeod Andrews, a longtime friend of Stovall's who has appeared in previous FrightFest favourites THE SIREN and THEY LOOK LIKE PEOPLE plays Jack. A handyman who has been tasked with clearing out an abandoned house. Finding the house fully furnished, as if the tenants suddenly had to leave, and with nowhere to shelter while his own house is being fumigated, Jack decides to set up camp at the empty house. When objects start to move of their own accord, the reason for the previous tenants leaving soon becomes apparent as Muriel, Natalie Walker, a ghost begins to make her presence felt in more antagonistic ways.
What follows is a humorous and philosophical look at the afterlife. There are nods to Jean Paul Sartre throughout as well as scenes such as Jack having a touching and hilarious conversation with a toilet (yes, this is a thing that happens, and it's great). The relationship between Jack and Muriel is nicely written and performed, exposing both their insecurities and in turn, clashing viewpoints on certain spiritual matters. Where this all leads to is both fresh and emotional in a way that supernatural cinema rarely explores.
Although this is a gentle film, it has a dark side to it. The dark subject matter is delivered in a feelgood fashion, yet sensitively written and performed. This could bristle with some viewers.
This year's Glasgow FrightFest highlighted several debut films from directors who show great promise for the future. A GHOST WAITS made the strongest impression on its audience and was by far the most emotional film that screened that weekend. With Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead's emotional and stirring Q&A for SYNCHRONIC the night before, it certainly made for a unique FrightFest weekend. While lacking in scares, it has heart enough to make up for it. What Stovall does for a follow up will no doubt be interesting and eagerly awaited by those who experience this unique calling card.