NOTE: Here is my review from Soda & Telepaths that was posted back on October 23, 2020
A Ghost Waits is a low budget horror rom-com that follows a simple house cleaner named Jack (MacLeod Andrews) who has been given the job of cleaning up an abandoned house. He’s heard that this house keeps losing tenants for some reason and part of his job is to make sure everything is up to code since maybe the tenants keep leaving because the heating doesn’t work or they found structural damage and just split. Turns out there’s no real structural damage to the building… however, there is a ghost named Muriel (Natalie Walker) and she is as terrible as all Muriel’s are and her job is to scare anyone out of the house that Jack is cleaning. What follows is one of the weirdest love stories in recent years.
Presented in black and white, A Ghost Waits spends the bulk of its runtime as a sweet little two-person play between the human and the ghost, alternating between an occasionally scary ghost story and a sweet story about two young kids who don’t get along at first but slowly come to admire certain aspects of each other. It never really leans too far in either direction, alternating between sweet and scary and letting that broad contrast provide most of the laughs.
Played as subtly as possible, A Ghost Waits leans mostly on the charm of the two leads more than anything and they make this simple little film work wonders. The best moments are when it’s just Jack and Muriel having a little chat, their playful back and forth so effortlessly charming you look past the quick cheap makeup done to make Muriel look like a ghost. There’s just something about these two that makes you support them and sink into the world that’s been created.
Sure A Ghost Waits suffers from what a lot of low budget productions have, some effects are a bit iffy and some of the editing is a bit off but these are minor things that one expects with this kind of film, and the film makes up for it by actually working within its confines interestingly and intelligently. The film works out what it can get away with and uses what it’s got to create an interesting atmosphere that gives this world something to work with.
There’s also a fun little subplot where, essentially, a boss ghost sends another ghost to try and scare Jack out of the house when it’s clear Muriel can’t do it and I do wish they’d maybe gone a little further with some of the scares there. A Ghost Waits has some good jump scare moments and the second ghost has some incredible moments (including one where she’s just having an almost casual chat with Muriel before basically roaring at Jack and making him almost wet himself, had me laughing for a while) but there’s a feeling that maybe they could’ve gone a touch further with the horror element, which in turn would’ve upped the contrast and thus upped the comedy.
A Ghost Waits is a simple, charming little story that feels confident being what it is, charming. It leans on that charm and it’s going to ride it out as long as it can, ride until the wheels fall off. It staggers now and then and some moments push the limits of that charm to just before breaking point, but on the whole, it’s a likeable film that tried something new and, for the most part, succeeds.