Adam Stovall (director)
06 March 2020 (released)
17 March 2020
It is easy to become a little jaded at times; seeing the umpteenth variation on an already well variated theme. Then something just appears that just grabs you by whatever and reminds you why you love genre films. That’s what it was like watching A Ghost Waits: a debut of stunning deceptive simplicity.
Jack (MacLeod Andrews) is a general handyman who’s tasked with getting properties ready for sale or let. He’s sent to a house that is still pretty well furnished so making an assessment is difficult. The house has also seen off a few clients so there’s something of a strange ambience about the place.
Jack decides to spend the night as his place is not available and has a pretty bad dream. The next morning it all starts with the radio turning on and off plus generally weird goings on. All the time the perspectives are changing from Jack’s to the ghost’s which finally appears. Although she is not a ghost, Muriel (Natalie Walker) is a ‘spectral agent’ and has been allocated that house to haunt.
Trouble is Muriel doesn’t get the reaction she expected with Jack as after an initial fright, he just gets on with his job. This is noticed and Muriel gets called back to head office to explain herself and that maybe she needs some help from Rosie (Sydney Vollmer) who is younger and uses different methods. Things don’t go quite to plan and with spectral agent admin Ms Henry (Amanda Miller) having to intervene and there’s the complication that Jack and Muriel are falling for each other.
While there are nods here and there to Beetlejuice with the afterlife bureaucracy and in a technical sense the early Paranormal Activity films, this is a highly entertaining, original and touching film. The black and white film stock and the direction belie the very small budget as it looks very impressive.
To match that, is the script by writer/director Adam Stovall and the central performances of Andrews and Walker. Jack is initially scared but then starts to assert himself as does Muriel who is under pressure too but it turns out they both have a lot in common. And it’s a very engaging, very natural dynamic they develop that leads to what is no doubt a controversial denouement.
Aside from that it could easily have been a gag fest instead the humour is within the lucid exchanges between the cast that bind with the discussions into quite serious current issues of loneliness and acceptance. This is a wonderful film that bears up to repeated views with Stovall demonstrating a flare for comedy, drama, fantasy not to mention the technical aspects of filming. It’s a very, very impressive debut.
A Ghost Waits had its world premiere on 6 March at Glasgow FrightFest.