Oh, The Humanity! A Ghost Waits

a ghost waits indexThis low budget black and white horror comedy is only seventy seven minutes long yet it still feels like it’s packed with an enormous amount of filler and scenes which have no real reason to exist. At its core this should be a short film, perhaps half an hour or forty minutes long at the very most, that or the writers should have expanded on its concept and played around with other ideas as it really drags in places, the beginning especially.

The film does actually start well as we witness a panicked family flee the house they live in, and learn that they’re on the run because a ghost called Muriel (Natalie Walker) is haunting them. But after that it slows down to absurd levels, as the next thing we know our sort of hero Jack (MacLeod Andrews) is looking around the place as he works for the company who owns the house, and is asked to try and find out why their tenants never stay for long. That leads to twenty five minutes of him wandering around the house, chatting away to himself, and not noticing the occasional door closing mysteriously behind him or chair rocking in the distance.

Jack also has a couple of rather irritating dreams of a surreal nature, but which aren’t as funny or as intriguing as the filmmakers believed them to be, and again filler is the word that springs to mind. Strangely when Jack has his first conversation with Muriel his reaction makes no sense either, he’s alone in the house when the music he’s playing stops and he responds to a mysterious voice that compliments his singing, but shortly afterwards the music kicks in again and Jack goes back as if nothing had happened. The same applies when the doorbell rings a couple of times and then Jack’s pizza goes missing, and for a film which is anchored in the mundane and the normal the way he responds to this event feels plain wrong, as he throws a minor hissy fit and strops off to bed rather than trying to find out where a whole pizza has disappeared off to.

Some of Jack’s dialogue when he’s chatting away to himself is quite amusing, as are his responses to various phone calls which give director Adam Stovall and co-writer / star MacLeod Andrews an excuse to flesh out Jack’s character and tell us why he needs to stay in the house, but this first half is pretty much the most boring opening to a film I have ever witnessed and everything that happens in it could have been compacted in to five minutes with ease. Around the half hour part it finally introduces our two leads, as Muriel pulls out all of her bag of tricks to freak out Jack, and it works too as he runs out of the house screaming. But then he realises he’s forgotten his keys, has to go back in, and angrily reprimands Muriel screaming “I don’t know what the fuck you are but knock it the fuck off, some of us have work to do”. And even when she tries again to scare him he’s just not having any of it and then rather speedily the two fall for each other. There’s another twist though, in that Muriel has a supervisor who complains that she’s not doing her job, and brings in another ghost to get rid of Jack.

It’s a bizarre film, one which drags out certain ideas to a ridiculously tedious extent, but then rushes others, the falling in love part especially. One scene is a montage of Jack and Muriel chatting away while music drowns out the dialogue, but not being able to hear what they’re saying, not being able to understand why they fall for each other, makes their sudden passionate feelings just feel very, very silly. The overall idea is a fun one, the performances are strong, especially MacLeod Andrews, but a lot of the time the dialogue feels unnaturalistic, especially when Muriel’s boss Miss Henry (Amanda Miller) pops up to interrogate Jack about the nature of his job and why he chooses to do it, the material reminding of the worst excesses of indie films of the nineties and it’s pretentious rather than insightful.

Worst of all is the ending though, it’s something which seems absurd, it ignores the previously established rules of the supernatural, and it even slightly angered me as it romanticises a subject that I feel should never be treated in such a way. I take no pleasure giving any low budget film a kicking, and I truly did hope to enjoy this a great amount, but it’s an incredibly flawed piece, containing a few funny lines and interesting ideas but the majority of the time it fails to develop them in an engaging way, while it comes to a close in an awful manner.

Alex Finch.
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