Wow! A Ghost Waits really surprised us by being not only a horror comedy that is funny, but also a romantic movie that is sweet and happy, if a little twisted. It feels a little like a modern indie version of my favorite supernatural romance, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. It’s even presented in glorious black and white!
Jack, one of the few human characters who appear onscreen in the film, is sent by his cold and distant employer to a haunted rental house. Contrary to some synopses I’ve seen, Jack is not trying to exorcise the house, he’s just the guy the property management sent to clean it. No one ever stays in the rental house because it’s occupied already by a ghost sent by an afterlife bureaucracy, perhaps the dead version of property management. Jack is lonely and has nowhere else to go because his apartment building is being fumigated (which turns out to be hugely ironic) so the ghost, Muriel (is she so named because of Mrs. Muir??), can’t evict him using her award-winning methods. This gets her into trouble with her cold and distant employer, who sends a different sort of ghost to deal with Jack. If simple frights don’t work, terrifying existential angst can also be induced by ghosts in this movie’s universe, but Jack is immune to that as well. Then when he falls in love with spectral agent Muriel, he has to figure out a way for them to be together. Fortunately, Jack fixes things for a living.
I just can’t say enough about how much I enjoyed A Ghost Waits, but it’s a relatively new movie so I don’t want to reveal much. I will tell you that it’s refreshing to see ghosts who are just people in fright makeup, who disappear via stop motion, rather than bad animation. I loved the dream sequences, especially the one with a doppelganger bartender. I spent half the movie steeling myself for jump scares, but the movie subverts almost all of the hallway and mirror ghost appearances we’ve come to dread. And the movie even addresses the criticism most horror fans agree on, that jump scares aren’t genuinely scary, using Jack’s experience and dialogue.
A Ghost Waits asks some Really Big Questions about why people do what they do, but ultimately goes with the idea that love, and a bit of the Maslow scale, conquer all. This is that rare movie I find that I can actually recommend you watch because it’s good, and not because it’s flawed and has to be seen to be believed.