Prolific writer/director FC Rabbath first came to our attention a couple of years ago with A Brilliant Monster, his clever and witty examination of what powers the creative mind and the lengths that some can be driven to in their single-minded determination to be recognised for their creativity at any cost. His latest film is an entirely different kettle of scares, a winning and likeable combination of ghost story and romcom blessed with cheery performances that, for all its ghostly trappings, delivers a rather sweet and poignant tale of a very different sort of obsession to A Brilliant Monster.
Eric Brady (Nick Leali - think John Schuck crossed with Greg Grunberg) is an unlucky-in-love slob who still lives at home with his mom. His dating life is almost as disastrous as his search for gainful employment. However, it looks as if his luck might have changed when he gets a pretty lowly job as a bellhop in a pleasant, if slightly rundown, local hotel called The Lodge. The hotel has suffered a downturn in its fortunes thanks to stories of supernatural goings-on in Room 101 and Eric is told, in no uncertain terms, to stay away from the room. Desperate to impress his new co-workers Eric can’t resist the allure of a mystery and sets foot inside the room where lurks ‘an angry spirit’. What he finds at first terrifies and disturbs him until he discovers the truth about the glowing-eyed, desiccated spectre called Elizabeth that haunts the room.
Fans expecting an Amityville-lite horror film might be disappointed and frustrated by The Waiting but then that’s not the vibe Rabbath is aiming for here. Elizabeth’s story is tragic and heartbreaking and whilst the film delivers a couple of jolt moments when we first meet her, we soon realise that she’s a tragic figure, locked forever in the room where she lost her life – a room which is danger of disappearing when the hotel’s owner sells the building for redevelopment. The Waiting is a rather sweet, funny, and unconventional beyond the grave love story (we can’t think of another film where a ghost is taught how to text on a mobile phone) and Rabbath’s tight script and confident direction constantly keep the audience on its toes taking it to emotional places it won’t have been expecting in what looks from the outside like a conventional ‘haunted house’ thriller. It’s another enjoyable and hugely accomplished feature from Rabbath who has worked wonders with a tiny budget and again we’re left wondering what he’d be able to achieve on the sort of canvas a bigger budget could offer him.