Romance, belonging and ghosts are a staple of the supernatural genre, from A Ghost Story (2017) to Beetlejuice (1988) and The Ghost and Mrs Muir (1947). The relationship between love, life and death central to our reflections on mortality. With film offering a glimmer of hope that death neither separates nor ends our eternal need for love and belonging. The finality of death merely a new realm of love and existence. With his debut feature, director Adam Stovall laces his simple, yet highly effective story ‘A Ghost Waits‘ with elements from all of the above-mentioned movies. Taking the comedy of Beetlejuice and layering it with the quiet yet powerful impact of A Ghost Story. In turn, producing a small budget film that sings with humour, love and emotion.
Jack (MacLeod Andrews) spends his working day going from one empty house to the next, fixing problems before new tenants move in. His life as a handyman and caretaker wrapped in loneliness, as friends avoid his calls; his boss avoids discussion, and his job offers little fulfilment. However, on being instructed to clean and ready a local house for new tenants, Jack arrives to find the place still full of the previous families belongings. Confused, he phones his boss, only to be told that the family left in a hurry; and that in fact, all tenants seem to leave suddenly. As a result, he asks Jack to explore the house thoroughly; convinced there must be some maintenance problem that leads to the sudden departure of each tenant.
Jack quickly gets to work checking electrics and cleaning toilets, his small radio pumping out tunes. However, as Jack walks through each room, strange noises, voices, and movements haunt every step. The house alive with a supernatural presence determined he does not outstay his welcome. But Jack has a job to do, and no minor haunting will distract him from his work, even when the apparition named Muriel (Natalie Walker) makes herself known to him.
Many independent first features get caught up trying to emulate the gloss of Hollywood giants, but not so in A Ghost Waits. Stovall allows the simplicity, screenplay, and divine performances to shine through any rush to copy previous cinematic work. The black and white cinematography, gentle, yet engaging score and beautifully structured story, the key to the sincerity of the film. Which at a mere 80-minute runtime flies past, while also managing to leave an indelible mark on the viewer. Central to this is MacLeod Andrews and Natalie Walker, both of whom shine from beginning to end. Their gentle, engaging and heartfelt performances, elevating the film beyond the limitations of its small budget.
As a feature debut, Adam Stovall announces his arrival with a film that transcends the usual restrictions of independent cinema. The film’s screenplay co-written by Matt Taylor and MacLeod Andrews, paying homage to classics of the genre, while also finding a unique and distinctive voice. The result of which is a beautiful 80-minute journey into life, death and rebirth; the power of love transcending the boundaries of mortality in creating belonging, purpose and companionship.
Director: Adam Stovall