Thankfully, this wasn’t the case with one of my recent experiences in product reviewing: Adam Stovall’s A Ghost Waits (Arrow Films, 2020) is a small, intimate, and yet still reasonably spooky tale about two souls – one living, one deceased – who find each other on opposite sides of the living spectrum. Jack (played by MacLeod Andrews) is a hired hand who mends broken homes for a property management company so that they can be rented out, and Muriel (Natalie Walker) is the ‘spectral agent’ whose wraithlike goal it is to keep her assigned home empty. Across purposes, they’ve both grown alone yet world-weary. As is the formula for any successful romantic comedy, they first come together because their respective roles require it, but they inevitably find love as a personal choice.
How in the world could that happen?
“A Ghost Waits is about human connection,” writer/director Adam Stovall told me when we recently sat down for a video chat. “I think we have all been lonely. I think we have all been alienated. Especially in the horror community which is a lot of people who grew up the misfit. We grew up shunned and ‘othered.’ These fans eventually found this community that gave them not just space to function but room to flourish. A Ghost Waits has horror; it has romance; it has comedy; it has drama; but it also has a beating heart.”
He closes with a statement persuasive for those who perhaps find themselves in such uncharted waters as his creations Jack and Muriel:
“A Ghost Waits is the movie that I wish existed when I was fifteen.”
Make no mistake: if any budding filmmaker is out there hoping to pair himself with a distribution outlet to find and grow an audience, Arrow Films is one of the best. Their home video releases have as many layers as do Stovall’s characters! Whereas audio commentaries have grown (in my opinion) a bit passé, Arrow has taken steps to expand a storyteller’s reach by ponying up supplemental materials like interviews, taped question-and-answer sessions, and even video and written essays (promotional booklets included). This gives any storyteller the chance to not only hit a home run with a particular message but also to really hit one out of the park!
Indeed, the backside of A Ghost Wait’s slipcase tells me all I need to know about the film’s central message in bold white letters on a black backdrop:
“You are not alone.”
Simply put, that's a picture-perfect presentation behind the flick’s central theme.
When asked why he believes his film has resonated with so many people, Stovall grows thoughtful. “I think that people recognize the humanity to it, and it speaks to something that pretty much every person has experienced.” After a pause, he added, “It’s very much about how we can find this specific humanity that is also universal. What are the things that we’re all afraid of or that we’re all concerned with.”
Another thing that’s grown universal?
Well, that would be the critical and audience praise for his film as A Ghost Awaits. It certainly created a stir on the festival circuit as viewers and industry professionals alike have been smitten by this case of supernatural love. This heartwarming flick squeezes a lot of mileage into its 80-minute run-time and has played as an ‘Official Selection’ to a great handful of film festivals. It scored matching Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor wins at both the 2020 Screamfest and 2020 Frightfest … an impressive double-trifecta for the director’s debut work.
Knowing that much of SciFiHistory.Net’s readership dabbles in storytelling of its own, I asked Stovall for any advice he might pass along for those interested in what he’s learned on his journey to fame and fortune. He highlighted Dan O’Bannon’s Guide to Screenplay Structure as an effective starting point but then quickly added:
“Learn the rules so that way you can break them when you need to. It’s such a great artwork because you have all of these different tools to use to get where you need to go. I almost never know my ending when I start, but I have to know my ending at some point. The beginning of the script is your idea, and the end of the script is your point. Anything can work. Respect the form. Respect the story. But respect yourself and that you have something novel to say, and then work toward it. Storytelling is like watching a magic trick: the magicians who have the gift of gab are great, but you’re still there to see the rabbit come out of the hat.”
A Ghost Waits is one of those rare independent gems that captures lightning in a bottle without all of the corporate bells and whistles major film studios shackle to their releases. It may not be as pretty as the next film you see at the multiplex – such is the nature of indie filming – but it definitely has the magic to compete on its own merits. It’s a sentiment Stovall knew all too well when he admitted, “We may never make this movie perfect, but we can make it the best version of itself.”
SciFiHistory.Net's Review Of A Ghost Waits
A Ghost Waits Official Website
Arrow Films A Ghost Waits Promotional Videos
Rue Morgue's A Ghost Waits Movie Review
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