The Waiting

Take a group of unhappy people, add a ghost, and plenty of bad life advice, and the result may look something like F. C. Rabbath’s 2020 film, The Waiting. Billed as a horror romantic comedy, The Waiting tries to be many things yet masters of none. 

Eric Brady, a new hotel employee, stumbles upon an open secret: One of the rooms is haunted. Eric decides it’s in both his and the hotel’s best interest to help remove the ghost. However, when he meets it, everything changes. – IMDB

Writer, director (and AP Award-winning journalist) Rabbath wears many hats in this story of the sad and dissatisfied lives that frequent The Lodge Hotel. The Waiting is not his first feature and viewers can be grateful for the quality of his film craft.  Scenes are well shot and recorded, so the action is clear; the dialogue is intelligible and the sparse digital effects look good.  

This love story between extraordinary lovers struggles with creating an engaging couple for viewers to latch onto.  While the idea of relationships between the living and the dead, stories of hauntings and possessions, can be fertile ground for compelling stories about transcendence and acceptance, The Waiting stumbles and flails with its two leads.  

Eric (Nick Lealli), the middle-aged main character, is painfully flawed and difficult to identify with as a likable protagonist. He is self-centered in the extreme, the type who doesn’t listen so much as impatiently waits for his turn to talk. He consistently runs over the other players’ attempts to help or encourage him. His attempts to make a bad situation better only bring about further danger.

The other half of this supernatural couple is the specter, Elizabeth (Molly Raterman). She is an angry, vengeful spirit imprisoned in the hotel room where she committed suicide after being rejected by her married lover.  While supposed to be a sympathetic person who has been used and abused in life (and the afterlife), Elizabeth is another character that is difficult to feel empathy for.

The Waiting (2020)

The rest of the cast’s roles are just as hard to like or identify with – Steve (Bob Myers), the toxic and manipulative hotel manager, is exploiting Elizabeth as part of a scheme to buy the hotel at a cheap price.  Housemaid Michelle (Michelle Feliciano) is predatory and unkind. While Michelle’s job in the story is to provide a clear perspective on the situation, no one is willing to listen to her.  Sally (Laura Altair), the other housemaid, is kind-hearted and maybe even has a crush on Steve, she consistently gives the worst advice, encouraging Steve to continue to wait for an impossible love.   

The Waiting can celebrate modest success in many areas.  While not adding anything new to the tropes of haunted hotels and romance, there are moments of atmospheric camera work and lighting that provide a few genuinely scary moments. There are a few wryly humorous moments that brought some needed laughter.  All-in-all, it is not an unwatchable film.  

The Waiting’s biggest flaws have more to do with its unfulfilled people at its heart. Their poor choices and self-indulgent actions trap them in existences filled with regret and offer no hope of resolution or relief.  The final scene, very reminiscent of James Cameron’s Titanic finale, is bittersweet and emotional but is incongruent with the grimness of the rest of the film.  

More Film Reviews