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New Releases: A Ghost Waits (2021) - Reviewed

Posted By themoviesleuth 1030 days ago on Entertainment - The romantic comedy is a tricky affair.  On one end of the spectrum are a host of films starring A-list talent whose Hallmark proclivities congeal into an amorphous blob of recycled concepts and borderline offensive pastiche.  On the other end lies art house sensibilities, oftentimes too opaque for even the most astute fan of the genre to decipher.  The sweet spot lies in between, mixing heartwarming sentiments with goofy humor, but an undeniable subtext of decency and love.  Adam Stovall's phenomenal debut, A Ghost Waitsis the perfect summation of romantic cinema.  Created on a shoestring budget, featuring an endearing central duo of performances, and boasting classic black and white cinematography, this an unexpected joy that will bring comfort to many in these uncertain times of isolation and division.     Jack is a handyman who fixes up rental properties and his latest assignment appears to be haunted.  As Jack attempts to deal with specter, he begins to learn that love and companionship transcends any sense of conformity, and that the power of the heart may even defy death itself.  Stovall wrote the screenplay with Macleod Andrews, who also plays Jack.  Brimming with moments of horror, wonder, and sidesplitting humor, this is a remarkable accomplishment, as the material never slides too far into any particular field.  Beyond the relationship at the center, the most intriguing aspects of the film is in how the afterlife is organized.  Comparisons to Burton's masterwork Beetlejuice are unavoidable, as several of the best sequences involve the existential bureaucracy of the Spectral Agents who are assigned residences to haunt.  The difference, however, is where Burton went for laughs, Stovall hones in on the lonely, Sisyphantic qualities of endless repetition.  Muriel, brilliantly portrayed by Natalie Walker, is assigned to the home Jack is repairing.  Initially the lonely worker doesn't notice the kinetic oddities happening around him, but when he finally confronts Muriel is when things begin to harmonize.    This was a risky story, but taking a chance on a living/ghost love story is exactly the kind of fresh idea that independent cinema needs.  Risk takers define film, and if this austere debut says anything it is that Stovall and his troupe have a lot more to say.  Andrews and Walker are the heart and soul of the film.  The chemistry between Jack and Muriel is so organic, the viewer will often forget one of them is an undead anomaly...beyond the simple makeup which is enhanced by the rough black and white cinematography, helmed by Michael Potter.  There's a detached feeling that hangs over the first act, with the camera staying mostly observant, however, as the two lovers begin to test boundaries, the detachment to everything else increases, mimicking young, growing love and while some may criticize some of the angles and shot choices, it is clear what Stovall and Potter's intent was and it works.  Now available via streaming on Arrow Video's new service, A Ghost Waitsis not only a breath of fresh air for an extremely stale genre, it's also one of the most genuine love stories ever made and easily one of the best films of the year thus far.  While it may meander in and out of itself at times, this is a reflection of its lead characters, two lost souls who find freedom in one another via a partnership of equality and respect...and creepy jump scares that are hilariously telegraphed throughout.     --Kyle Jonathan 

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