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Adam Stovall
MacLeod Andrews, Natalie Walker, Sydney Vollmer
Writing Credits:
Adam Stovall, MacLeod Andrews Synopsis:
When a man cleans a house of spirits, he falls in love with a female ghost.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
English PCM Stereo
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 78 min.
Price: $39.95
Release Date: 5/4/2021

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Adam Stovall and Friend Corrie Loeffler
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Adam Stovall and Writer/Actor MacLeod Andrews
• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Adam Stovall, Writer/Actor MacLeod. Cinematographer Mike Potter, Co-Producer Nick Thurkettle, and Actor Sydney Vollmer
• “Humanity and the Afterlife” Featurette
• Cast & Crew Interviews
• “FrightFest Glasgow 2020” Featurette
• Outtakes
• Trailer
• Image Gallery
• Booklet


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


A Ghost Waits [Blu-Ray] (2020)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 9, 2021)

With 2020’s A Ghost Waits, we get a super low-budget indie flick. As the title implies, horror becomes a prominent genre, but the film also branches into other genres.

Jack (MacLeod Andrews) works as a handyman, and he gets the job to tidy a rental house. In addition to the clean-up, he needs to figure out why prior residents abandoned the place quickly.

Jack learns that ghosts haunt the house. Rather than flee, Jack strikes up a relationship with a spirit named Muriel (Natalie Walker), a connection that leads to complications.

No one can call that a particularly creative premise. We’ve gotten plenty of movies about ghost/human interaction over the years, so Waits doesn’t dig up a tale feels especially original.

As I often note, however, a film doesn’t need to invent a wholly new story to succeed. A well-executed take on the topic could work just fine in its own right.

Alas, Waits never manages to locate the creativity it needs. Slow and uninspired, the movie feels like a rough draft that requires more work.

Even at a mere 79 minutes, the movie feels padded. Given that running time, Waits needs to get to the point fairly quickly, but instead, it dawdles on its way to the Jack/Muriel relationship.

Oh, Waits toys with the viewer as it goes, so it offers hints of the ghosts in residence. However, the flick tends to remain in “tease” territory for an awfully long span given its brief running time.

This means Jack and Muriel don’t really connect until nearly halfway into Waits. For this sort of narrative, I think the tale should pair the two fairly quickly and give them more time to develop, so 30-plus minutes of vague spooky foreshadowing becomes a drag.

Waits doesn’t use the cinematic real estate well in other ways either. We get long, pointless scenes like one in which Jack cleans a toilet and “talks” to it.

Why? I guess those involved thought it would amuse, but it seems tedious and like nothing more than a space-filler.

Which is why I suspect that scene – and too many others – exist. The writers apparently couldn’t think of enough real character material to flesh out the film, so they tossed in superfluous material to pad out the flick so it could (barely) reach feature length.

Waits also wears too many of its influences on its sleeve. At times, it feels like a remake of 1995’s Casper, and we get ample allusions to 1988’s Beetlejuice as well. These just make us long to watch those superior movies instead.

At least McLeod does a competent job as our lead. While I can’t claim he excels in the role, he makes Jack more engaging and interesting than he probably should be.

Unfortunately, Walker shows little talent as an actor. Granted, she gets the more challenging role, since I suspect McLeod probably plays a role similar to his own personality.

Nonetheless, Walker seems stilted and awkward as our main ghost. She brings no personality or charm to the part and leaves a big hole at the film’s center.

I try not to fault mini-budget movies for weak production values, but the makeup of Waits seems so awful that I can’t avoid it. I’ve seen high school plays with better work than this, and the completely unconvincing ghost makeup becomes yet another problem.

Occasionally Waits shows some glimmers of promise, as some of its threads vaguely intrigue. Unfortunately, the movie lacks real momentum and narrative thrust, so it becomes a dull experience.

The Disc Grades: Picture C/ Audio C/ Bonus A-

A Ghost Waits appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. A low-budget affair, the visuals tended to seem lackluster, but I suspect they reproduced the source accurately.

Softness became the main issue, as an awful lot of the movie failed to present particularly strong delineation. While closeups and two-shots offered adequate definition, wider elements tended to seem tentative and fuzzy.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws also failed to appear.

The black and white image didn’t show much dimensionality. Darker tones tended to feel land and mushy, and contrast seemed blah.

Shadows followed suit, so low light scenes – of which we got plenty – leaned toward the murky side of the street. Given the nature of this indie production, I remain fairly convinced the Blu-ray replicated the material as intended, but this nonetheless became a less than attractive image.

Waits comes with a PCM Stereo soundtrack, a fact that initially made me go “buh”? A circa 2020 movie without a multichannel mix seems quaint, to say the least, and the absence of a 5.1 track surprised me.

That said, I know Waits enjoyed a low budget, and I probably prefer that the filmmakers went “small” with the audio. Better to keep things two-channel rather than attempt a bad 5.1 mix.

All of this means one should expect a generally unambitious soundtrack from Waits. Music used the side channels reasonably well, and some effects broadened horizons as well.

These moments made the track acceptably engaging, especially when it came to “scare” scenes. Still, a stereo mix for a 2020 movie remains fairly restrictive.

Audio quality seemed fine. Speech felt natural and concise, without edginess or other issues.

Given that Waits brought a subdued movie, effects lacked much to do, but they felt accurately reproduced. Music also seemed acceptably full, even though the score appeared low-key as well. Ultimately, I thought this was a passable track and no more, partly because it’s so primitive compared to what we expect from movies circa 2020.

The disc comes with a slew of extras, and we find three separate audio commentaries. The first comes from writer/director Adam Stovall and his girlfriend – fiancée? - Corrie Loeffler, as they bring a running, screen-specific look at the movie’s path to the screen and a mix of production areas as well as issues connected to Stovall’s personal history.

Don’t expect a particularly screen-specific chat here, as Stovall and Loeffler devote so little attention to the movie as it progresses. This doesn’t become a problem, though, as the chat offers a lot of good info.

Loeffler does a nice job as a moderator/interviewer, so she helps draw out Stovall along the way – not that he needs a ton of encouragement, as he seems chatty and engaging. We get a lot of insights about background related to the film and Stovall’s personal concerns – such as suicidal ideation – in this strong chat.

Next comes a commentary from Stovall and writer/actor MacLeod Andrews. Both sit together for their running, screen-specific discussion of the movie’s inspirations and move to the screen, story/characters, cast and performances, music, cut scenes, sets and locations, and relate domains.

More of a traditional commentary than the prior one, Stovall and Andrews offer another chatty and fast-paced discussion. They touch on a lot of good topics and make this a winning and informative piece.

Finally, the third commentary features Stovall, Andrews, cinematographer Mike Potter, co-producer Nick Thurkettle, and actor Sydney Vollmer. Via Zoom, all five sit together for a running, screen-specific look at story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, photography, cut scenes and related domains.

When you get to a third commentary, the participants suffer from the disadvantage that the first two tracks probably already covered a lot of the same territory. Stovall tries hard to avoid that redundancy, but this nonetheless becomes the weakest of the discussions.

While we get occasional nuggets that add insight – usually related to cinematography or other technical areas – too much of the commentary revolves around praise for the film and those involved. This never becomes a bad chat, but it easily feels like the weakest of the three.

From here we get a few featurettes, and Humanity and the Afterlife provides a “video essay” from film historian Isabel Custodio. In this 15-minute, 11-second reel, she discusses the ghost movie genre and how Waits fits. Custodio makes this a pretty interesting examination of the subject matter.

Under Cast & Crew Interviews, we get eight separate segments. All conducted via Zoom by film critic tt stern-enzi, we hear from Andrews (21:24), Stovall (29:51), Vollmer (11:42), Thomas (11:32), Potter (13:25), executive producer Deborah Parag (7:24), composer/co-lyricist Margaret Darling (8:48) and composer Mitch Bain (9:30).

Across these, we learn about the film’s genesis and development, financing, story/characters, cast and performances, music, sets and locations, photography, and related areas.

Overall, the interviews work well. Stem-enzi asks useful questions and draws out the subjects without too much pandering. Expect to learn a fair amount about the film, especially when we hear from participants who don’t appear in the commentaries.

Next comes a panel from FrightFest Glasgow. Shot in March 2020, this features Stovall with moderator Alan Jones and breaks into two areas: “Interview” (10:51) and “Post-Film Q&A” (13:46).

In both segments, Stovall delivers more comments about various aspects of the production. After so many prior commentaries and interviews, “FrightFest” struggles to find much new to say. We get a smattering of fresh notes, but much of the content repeats from prior components.

A collection of Outtakes goes for 12 minutes, 16 seconds. We find a pretty typical array of goofs and giggles – and a lot of that material.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we get an Image Gallery. Its 12 frames mix shots from the movie and ad art. It becomes a lackluster compilation.

The package also provides a booklet. This offers photos, credits and an essay from film scholar Craig Ian Mann. It finishes the set on a positive note.

While A Ghost Waits shows sporadic sparks of creativity, too much of it feels amateurish and uninspired. Without the substance to fill even its abbreviated running time, this turns into a bland flick. The Blu-ray offers mediocre picture and audio along with a long roster of bonus materials. I wanted to like Waits but found too little to enjoy.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 2
0 3:
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main