Already something of a hit at FrightFest Glasgow, a lonely oddjob man meets a quite literally kindred spirit in A Ghost Waits, a sweet, whimsically affecting horror rom-com from director Adam Stovall.

When its latest tenants leg it in an Amityville-style panic, handyman Jack (MacLeod Andrews) is hired to clean and repair a house by the estate agent who can’t understand why he can’t keep tenants in such a nice property. A 30-something loser who’s running out of friends’ sofas to surf, Jack decision to crash at the house he’s fixing up proves fateful however when he discovers the reason why; he’s not alone, the house is already occupied by ‘spectral agent’ Muriel (Natalie Walker), employed by an afterlife bureaucracy to haunt the home and scare off any interlopers. But while Jack may be scared, he has a job to do and he can’t afford to just walk out on it.

Stuck in the house together, Jack and Muriel reach a grudging understanding, bond, grow closer the longer the spend time with each other. But Muriel’s employers are worried that their top terroriser may have lost her touch and send her an understudy in the younger, crasser Rosie (Sydney Vollmer). Forced to defend their home against this interloper, does Jack and Muriel’s love stand a ghost of a chance?

With a premise that obviously echoes Beetlejuice (or Rentaghost for that matter), Adam Stovall’s A Ghost Waits is closer to David Lowery’s shattering metaphysical meditation on grief A Ghost Story, Jack as much of a ghost as Muriel, isolated, lonely, wandering through his own and other people’s lives with barely a ripple until he meets what may be the love of his life; trouble is she’s already dead.

While Walker’s stagey Muriel softens, becomes more human through her contact with Jack and their relationship develops in an organic, natural way, A Ghost Waits greatest strength lies in MacLeod Andrews winning performance as Jack. A gifted and charismatic presence he grounds the film in reality while soaring with its more whimsical, nakedly romantic moments. Shooting in a sensuous black-and-white that lends the film a timeless, almost transcendent quality that certainly transcends its lo-fi origins, Stovall’s film is suffused with both a bittersweet melancholy and a redemptive glimmer of hope despite a climax that, while beautiful and perfect for the film, did give me pause as someone who is a Mental Health First Aider.

To say too much more would ruin the relatively simple, low-key pleasures of a film that at its heart sees two lost souls find each other. As I said at the top of this article, A Ghost Waits was one of the hits earlier this year at FrightFest Glasgow and I almost can’t imagine watching it back in March. What would that experience have been like? Would it strike the same chord? Or would I have forgotten it almost as soon as it was over, perhaps while it was still unfolding? I’m not sure it would have resonated quite so much with me without having seen it through the isolation and loneliness of the global pandemic, that sense of loss, of despair, malaise. But that doesn’t matter. I didn’t see A Ghost Waits at FrightFest Glasgow. I saw it now, stuck alone in my flat, a ghost. Given the pain we’ve all gone through this year, A Ghost Waits is simply joyful. A melancholy glimmer of hope that may just save us all.           

Arrow Video Frightfest Digital Review: A Ghost Waits
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