Ghost story? One hundred percent. Scary? No, not really. F.C. Rabbath's haunted hotel film is one of those movies that, when it comes to genre, you can't quite put your finger on. It's a bit upbeat to be considered an actual horror film, not entirely on the mark to be a straight-laced comedy, and a little less serious than what many would consider dramatic. But don't let that fool you because "The Waiting" is also packed full of charm - and has developed a unique spin on its subject matter; a different kind of ghostly tale more interested in telling a great story than fitting squarely into the right genre category. The first twenty minutes with this film did have me on the fence; however, by the time the credit sequence began, I had no doubt my rating. None at all.
It all begins with Eric. A bumbly, awkward kind of guy attempting to get over a recent break-up and getting his life back together. Online dating isn't going so well, and his mother worries about him. It's clear there's more to Eric's social anxieties than his recent break-up; he is still trying to find his place in the job world and still lives at home borrowing money from his mother as needed. But life could be trending upward because, with some help from his mom, Eric gets a job at an interesting hotel - finally, a chance to turn things around.
No sooner does our nervous star begin his first day with a side order of tardiness - does "The Waiting" really start to pour on its unusual narrative. The hotel that now employees him is quickly becoming a black hole that seems to suck away any profits, and it also happens to be haunted. Actually, the very fact that it's haunted is the reason profits are way down. The ghost in question, Elizabeth, has a habit of appearing after one minute spent within "her" room, and apparently, her presence is spreading, and the guests are getting fewer and fewer. Eric takes it upon himself to tackle this haunting head-on and, in the process, ends up befriending the ghost. What starts as a simple ghost story becomes a story of loneliness, loss, and, yes, reader, even recovery. Elizabeth and Eric have a lot in common, and their story quickly becomes the glue that holds this film together.
Considering this film is a low-budget indie flick, I was pleasantly surprised at how well it played out across my screen. There's some real attention to detail and a nice flair for the cinematic at work here, along with some creative ways to get around the fact Rabbath didn't have twenty million bucks to produce this movie. The "blurring" of some of the visuals and effects saved some cash and worked atmospherically - along with a heaping helping of audio queues and atmospheric noises. From production to post-production, "The Waiting" stands tall and proud against some of the best low-budget, independent movies I've seen.
Yet, some of the characterizations, especially during this film's first act, did strike me as unusual. For instance, I couldn't for the life of me understand why every character was, well, a dick. Aside from Sally, there was not a single decent person anywhere to be seen. Sure, there was Eric and his mother - but every hotel guest, near every employee, and pretty much everyone, in general, was immediately not likable. Even Eric himself came across as just a little over the top - bordering more on the lazy loser character-type than a likable buffoon. Thankfully, a lot of this was addressed eventually, except maybe the hotel guests - who never seemed happy about anything.
That doesn't mean that the cast of "The Waiting" didn't do a great job with their characters. As a matter of fact? One of the reasons this movie works is the performances, and watching the characters develop was a treat. This genre-bending film relies heavily on how the cast portrays their characters, and considering my rating; they clearly went above and beyond. Of that, there is no question.
"The Waiting" is a well made, nicely acted indie flick that relishes in its own unique nature. It's as much a romance as it is a ghost story, and honestly? The way it played with the happy/sad emotions at the end was a real stroke of genius. There were a couple of laughs and some cool scenes but honestly? The fact that Rabbath and his troupe play with established genres and, yes, even the idea of a text messaging ghost all come into play, making "The Waiting" a unique viewing experience. Four out of five stars.