Written by Kim Morrison
From the opening scene of F.C. Rabbath’s The Waiting (2000), you think you know exactly what type of film you’re about to watch. Two maids, Michelle (Michelle Feliciano) and Sally (Laura Altair) are seen rushing to clean a clearly very haunted hotel room before their sixty-second time limit runs out.
However, rather than the simple tale of a haunted hotel with a cursed room, The Waiting is a look at people, relationships, and love – but there just so happens to be a ghost along for the ride.
Our main character is Eric (Nick Leali), a young man struggling with the pitfalls of internet dating. After being dumped by his last girlfriend, Eric is looking to get over her and finally find someone to love him back. While online dating doesn’t seem to be the answer to his relationship problems, he at least manages to land himself a job at the Lodge hotel. Hoping he will be able to save money, build a career, and impress his ex, Eric is keen to get to work.
It turns out the Lodge isn’t shy about the fact room 101 is haunted, with pretty much the entire staff discussing it with Eric when he starts working there. Eric is understandably curious and gets Michelle to lend him the key to the room. And that’s where he meets Elizabeth (Molly Ratermann), the Lodge’s resident ghost.
Eric’s whole life is slightly out of control. He’s been dumped, he’s struggling in an entry-level position when he has dreams of management, and he relies on his mother to keep his life on track. While others shy away from room 101, Eric is keen to prove himself and show how brave he is by entering the room time and time again. This is the one thing in his life that he does have control over, and so he makes the most of it by sneaking into the room whenever he has the chance.
Elizabeth is said to have died by suicide after her married lover left to tell his wife of their affair and never returned. Heartbroken and tired of waiting, Elizabeth saw no way out, and now her spirit is trapped in the hotel.
Sure, Elizabeth is a ghost, but her purpose is not to scare the audience. Instead, she’s there to show us the effect of how we are treated by other people can have on us. Getting jilted by her lover, Sean (David Raizor), has ruined Elizabeth’s life and left her stuck waiting for him anyway. Discarded and forgotten, she is locked away in a room the hotel never rents out and tries to keep hidden from their guests.
As her relationship with Eric begins to blossom, Elizabeth loses her skin’s bluish tinge and the ghastly light in her eyes. She starts to look more human as the two build a connection. She’s literally remembering the good things about being alive and his attention is replenishing her after years of regret. It’s a beautiful thing to watch.
There are also those who use Elizabeth for their own personal gain, no longer viewing her as human or worthy of compassion simply because she is a ghost.
Eric and Elizabeth bond because they have both been through bad breakups that have had a significant impact on their lives. They come together because they both carry so much hurt around with them, and yet they are both optimistic about finding love again and finally finding happiness with each other. It doesn’t matter that Elizabeth is a ghost. The Waiting shows how important human connections are, and how we’re all brought together by the common need to love and be loved in return.
For a ghost story, The Waiting isn’t light on scares, but that’s not what this particular story is going for. It shows that ghosts are just real people who have died, rather than some fantastical monster that wants nothing more than to terrorise the living. Elizabeth had problems to deal with when she was alive, and even in the afterlife, she has carried these problems with her. She and Eric bond through their common issues, even if she is on a different plane of existence. It shows how much we can have in common with people who seem so different from us at first glance.
Overall, The Waiting is an excellent supernatural love story. It shows how you can use horror elements without always going for scares. Instead, The Waiting packs an emotional punch using a ghost to represent those people in the world who feel unloved, forgotten, and on the outskirts of life.
Without giving too much away, the ending gives the audience some happy closure and left me in tears. It’s a beautiful look at the different ways that people can fall in love and proves that a good thing is always worth waiting for.
Rating: 4 out of 5