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Don’t you just hate it when a ghost ruins all your plans and makes you fall for her indie-music singin’ ways AFTER she’s stolen your precious pizza?! I hate that the worst of all! And so does our main character in this week’s movie, A GHOST WAITS.

Thanks to Arrow:

This film is brought to us by ARROW –  a true indie SVOD service created and run by people that love cult films of all kinds. ARROW is building on our decades of experience in the Cult film and physical media worlds. They believe in film, from horror to action to westerns to the truly bizarre and use their experience as a distributor and our recent digital presence to deliver a very different SVOD service in ARROW.

Their approach to supporting each release on ARROW includes looking to supplement the feature films with hours of additional content that paints a fuller story of the filmmakers, genres and the movies themselves.  They commission stunning artwork from some of the best illustrators and artists from around the world and work as closely as they can with the filmmakers themselves in how their film is released.
Check out ARROW today at https://arrowfilms.com/!

I want to put a trigger warning on this one for suicidal ideation/themes. So, if that’s not in your wheelhouse, I’d suggest skipping this, especially the end with “Brain Roll Juice”. Thanks and be well. – J.M.

The Plot: (spoiler-free)

Jack (MacLeod Andrews) is your typical half-neurotic, half-sweet-as-apple-pie handyman. He’s often neglected and shit on by others, including his own friends and his boss, but it’s really through no fault of his own. He likes his job and enjoys the simplicity of fixing the broken, maintaining houses, and rocking out to indie bands. He’s the kind of guy who talks to toilets while cleaning them, and making them talk back. 

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He’s also the type of guy who is slow on the uptake when he begins to be haunted by a dark and mysterious ghost, Muriel (Natalie Walker). So, chairs rocking on their own, lights going out, and strange dreams don’t bother him much. But push comes to shove when this ghostly apparition STEALS HIS GODDAMN PIZZA!

Pictured: a broken, pizza-less man

He then starts losing his shit before realizing what’s happening and why so many previous tenants of the house have moved out (ghost on both accounts).

However, frustrated, he confronts the ghost, shocking her and piquing her curiosity in him. They start to form a bond and maybe even…love?

But ghosting is a serious business and if she can’t get him to leave the house, then her ghost license is revoked, or something, and she becomes a “shadow” (which is bad news).

But as just they begin to understand their feelings, the ghost agency sends another ghost to get the job done. Can their love survive? And if so, at what cost?

Thoughts: (spoiler-free)

This is one that hurt because there were a lot of right steps done for a low-budget horror-comedy, but there were also problematic areas that could have been avoided.

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They lowered the effects and made it more down-to-earth, including makeup and the very slight gore. These are effects that I could probably do if given some YouTube videos and an afternoon, but that actually enhances the indie feel of this movie. 

Pictured: level of spookiness

Same with the black and white. It’s not really needed, but it adds to the flavor and the atmosphere, and reminds me of old indie horrors of the early 60’s. There are some fun shots, but for the most part, it’s pretty straight-forward. 

The music is filled to the brim with indie bands, which can get a bit tiring after a while because they blur together. But I enjoyed that they were mostly diegetic and a plot point. And I was also happy to see that they were actually used by the characters instead of just blaring in the background.

Okay, let’s get to the really good and the really…not-good. 

The really good were the shoulders of MacLeod Andrews because he f***ing carried this thing. His portrayal of Jack was actually sweet, endearing, and relatable. Honestly, it was weird seeing a character that I related so much with during the first act especially. Yes, I have talked to toilets. Yes, I have made them respond to me. We’re friends, get over it. But seriously, his acting was tremendous in this, as were his line reads because it could have gone completely the opposite and he could have sounded like a “nice guy” instead of an actual nice guy. So, I tip my hat, sir.

Pictured: Brannyk on any given day

And here comes the not-good, which I’ll talk more about in the next segment, too. The writing, mostly.

When we get to the second act, it begins to unravel. Once our two mains meet, it becomes a mess. We don’t get enough character from Muriel (not backstory, character) to make her memorable or his actions justifiable. The ghost bureaucracy just muddled and slowed the story down. When you add bureaucratic rules to supernatural, it usually gets tiresome unless really well done (i.e. Beetlejuice). It’s like playing a complex role-playing game – suddenly you’re arguing about THAC0 for an hour when you just wanna go kill orcs with your bikini-clad barbarian babe. 

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If they wanted to add it, we (as the audience) should have learned about it before Jack, so it didn’t feel tagged on and it felt more a part of Muriel’s character. The stakes would have felt higher and we could have connected to her more as a character. 

Their flirting/meeting each other was, like, an hour or two at most. They are just sitting at the table and talking for half an afternoon. This equates as love in the movie. Do we need to revisit Frozen?

We never really understand why he even likes Muriel as more than a cool undead chick to sometimes hang with. The love doesn’t feel real or genuine. It feels really forced, in fact.

Pictured: Flirting, apparently

And also, just a BIG no for the line from Muriel, “What’s a movie?”

This is from a ghost who has claimed to understand people’s deepest fears from observing them and you’re telling me she’s never seen a couple people plop down and watch a freakin’ video on Tubi (please Tubi, respond to my voicemails, I love you, please notice my love!)? I call Bull Shenanigans. Hard B.S. 

Pictured: my face at this line

Brain Roll Juice: (spoilers ahead)

Okay, I’m not going to beat around the bush. This is a movie where a guy who has shitty friends feels lonely, meets a ghost for an afternoon, she pays attention to him so he thinks he’s in love, she likes him or whatever, but they can’t be together, SO HE COMMITS SUICIDE. 

Let that seep into every crack of your soul. I’ll wait…

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Suicide is the answer to this love story.

She doesn’t say, “Hey, wait a minute. Like, you have your whole life…”

Nope, she’s all smiles and thumbs-up as he sits in his car, garage doors closed, waiting to die. He even calls his boss to thank him for everything and we see a scene of his boss finding his lifeless body.

In the next scene, we see the two of them haunting the house together because true love wins and they chose not to fear the reaper. 

Yeah, so…

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Honestly, I am still not sure what to even say to this ending.

I keep seeing reviews calling A GHOST WAITS heart-warming and charming, and I’m just beside myself. I keep thinking I’m the only one who sees the damn gremlin on the wing of the plane and that gremlin is the alarming rise of suicides in the world. 

In the United States, suicide was the tenth leading cause of death overall, claiming the lives of over 48,000 people per year. Suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34, and the fourth leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 35 and 54. Males are at a higher risk than females, just as rural areas are higher risk than urban

And if we still believe the theory of Durkheim’s extensive study on suicide (I know it was like forever and a day ago), Le Suicide, we can see a pattern that Jack fits into, which Durkheim called the Egoist Suicide. The Egoist suicide is usually enacted when one feels severely disconnected from their family, friends, community and society. Jack basically even says this at one point, that his life doesn’t matter because his friends don’t want him, his boss doesn’t respect him, and we never hear from his family. He is alone and lonely. He thinks he has no reason to live and one reason to die, so he chooses death. 

This is depressive, not happy. The ending glorifies his decision and is played off like it was the right decision. There is no hint of hesitation from him or Muriel.

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This, surprisingly, goes back to Beetlejuice, when Lydia is planning on suicide to be with the people who care about her and they tell her that life is hard, but it’s hers to live. They will always love her and be there for her especially when she lives through those challenging times. It’s Barbara and Adam’s love that supports her and drives her to keep living, and not to pull her into the bureaucratic eternity of being a ghost.

Because otherwise the relationship would be selfish and toxic. 

Bottom Line:

You might enjoy this romp. There were moments that I truly did. But when it gets down to the nitty-gritty, it falls flat with its mission (a genuine romance) and it’s message (Jack completing suicide = love beats all). 2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

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When not ravaging through the wilds of Detroit with Jellybeans the Cat, J.M. Brannyk (a.k.a. Boxhuman) reviews mostly supernatural and slasher films from the 70's-90's and is dubiously HauntedMTL's Voice of Reason. Aside from writing, Brannyk dips into the podcasts, and is the composer of many of HauntedMTL's podcast themes.

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Movies n TV

Fallout, The Target

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Episode two of Amazon Prime’s Fallout was equal parts funny and bloody. This almost always leads to a good time.

The story

We begin this episode with the birth of some puppies that look like they’ve had a rough start to life. Each one is weighed, with the ones who fall short being incinerated.

One pup who is just below the correct weight gets a bit of a thumb on their scale. The scientist weighing them, Wilzig, writes down the proper weight. He later takes the puppy home to raise instead of putting them into what looks like an unforgiving training program.

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Eventually, we see Wilzig put some blue glowing thing into his neck. When a soldier comes for him, Dog attacks the soldier, and the two escape.

Ella Purnell in Fallout.

We go from there to the wilderness, where Lucy is recovering from the last episode and enjoying a campfire at night. Wilzig and Dog come out of the shadows, saving Lucy from a bug monster. Wilzig tells Lucy she should go home. And if she’s not going to go home, she needs to evolve.

The next day Lucy finds her way to a town called Filly. As a Pennsylvanian, it hurts me to spell it that way. Lucy is entranced by this town, though clearly put off by the fact that no one is very nice here.

She eventually finds her way to a shop run by a delightful woman named Ma June. Ma doesn’t seem particularly interested in helping Lucy. Or, frankly, having Lucy in her shop.

Or in her town.

Eventually, Wilzig is tracked to this same shop, being tracked by The Ghoul. This is our final primary character. Lucy defends Wilzig, being aided at the last moment by Maximus.

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Maximus, by the way, has been having a terrible time. After finally becoming a squire he’s disappointed to find that his knight, Knight Titus, is a terrible person.

Fortunately, Maximus doesn’t have to put up with Titus for long. After Titus gets the bright idea to go hunting, he’s attacked by a mutated bear. Maximus freezes, unable to save him. Then, well, he decides not to save him.

It was Titus’s idea to go hunt the bear, after all.

What worked

Walton Goggins in Fallout.

The first thing I want to draw attention to is the shootout scene at Filly. This scene checked every box a fight scene should check. It was fun to watch, with great effects. But it also gave us insight into the characters. Lucy is a decent fighter and has a strong moral compass. The Ghoul is callus and desensitized to death. And Maximus continues to be, well, sort of bad at this whole fighting thing. But with enough moral fortitude that we have a hard time blaming him.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the dog. Who’s name, as far as I’ve been able to ascertain, is just Dog. Which is fine. He doesn’t need to have a name to be a very good boy. He’s sweet, loyal, and fearless.

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Also, puppies. Puppies are always great.

Finally, I’d like to shine a spotlight on Lucy’s reaction to the world at large. She is both amazed and terrified by everything. And while she certainly doesn’t want to be rude, she also doesn’t want to be taken advantage of. The best example of this is when she stops to ask for directions with a bright smile and a gun.

Once again, I don’t have anything bad to say about this episode. It was funny, dark, and fun to watch. I’m very much looking forward to the rest of the season. 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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Movies n TV

Fallout, The End

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Launching with worldwide excitement, Fallout is based on the extremely popular game series of the same name. Fans of the series have waited with anticipation and trepidation to see if the Prime series would live up to the game.

Having now watched the first episode I can say that, so far, it’s successful.

The story

Our story begins with a children’s birthday party. A performer is there with his daughter, giving horse rides and taking pictures with the kids.

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As much as the adults try to focus on the party and the kids, it’s impossible to ignore the looming threat of war that’s on everyone’s mind.

Of course, it’s during this party that war comes, and the bombs drop.

We then cut to after the war and into one of the vaults established to protect humankind and the American Way. For future reference, this is Vault 33. We meet Lucy, our first main character, who’s petitioning to be married to a man from Vault 32 to ensure DNA diversity.

On the wedding night, though, Lucy and the rest of Vault 33 are met with a horrible surprise. The group they let in is not in fact from Vault 32, but is instead a team of raiders from the surface. The raiders kill a lot of the vault dwellers and kidnap Lucy’s father.

We are then introduced to our second main character, Maximus. He is in training to become a Knight in the Brotherhood of Steel. And, well, he’s not doing great.

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Things get worse when his best friend Dane becomes a squire before him. But when Dane is hurt, Maximus gets their spot.

Aaron Moten in Fallout.

We then go back to Lucy, who has decided to leave the vault and find her dad. Of course, the council of her vault doesn’t want her to go. So she is aided by her brother Norm and cousin Chet in a wild escape.

What worked

The first thing that deserves attention is the exceptional character work. Our three main characters are fleshed out and relatable right away. We feel sympathetic for The Ghoul before he’s even introduced as such. We love Lucy’s nativity and selflessness. And we love Maximus for his honesty and passion for his cause.

While these characters are their own people, they also exhibit the three responses we might expect to see in a post-apocalyptic world. We have the hopeful optimist who doesn’t understand how bad things are. We have the aspiring hero who wants to make the world better by force. And we have the self-serving individual who’s given up on the rest of humanity and is only focused on surviving.

Another thing I enjoyed about this episode was the balance of humor and gore. Because there was certainly enough blood and guts for even the most hardcore horror lover. We had a violent sabotage, a brawl with raiders, and even several nuclear bombs.

But there were a lot of funny moments as well. Usually from Lucy. Her overall goodwill and fearless gumption are absolutely hilarious, especially given the horrors she’s facing. It never ceases to amuse me.

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Ella Purnell in Fallout

Both of these aspects are done perfectly. The jokes land and the bloody scenes pull no punches. It was delightful.

All in all, this was an exciting start to a much-anticipated series. Here’s hoping they’re able to stick the landing.

For more tv shows based on video games, check out my review of Witcher. 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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Movies n TV

American Horror Story Delicate, Ave Hestia

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Episode seven of American Horror Story Delicate was a classic AHS flashback episode. If you were excited to see what Preecher had to say to Anna at the end of the last episode, I’m sorry to say that you will not get that satisfaction. However, we did learn all sorts of other fascinating things about the strange coven hunting Anna. And, we learned all sorts of things we didn’t know about Dex’s first wife, Adeline.

The story

We begin our story with a woman giving birth alone in a barn. When it becomes clear that she’s not going to be able to deliver vaginally, she pulls out a knife and cuts her stomach open to pull out her children.

For whatever reason, this is when the coven of witches decides to make themselves known.

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Ashlie Atkinson in American Horror Story.

We then cut to 2013, when Dex was still married to Adeline. In true Dex fashion, he’s surprised her with a puppy.

While that sounds great in theory, dogs are something a couple should talk about, not gift each other with as a surprise. An adult would know that. A trust fund boy like Dex does not.

Adeline owns a vegan restaurant called Ave Hestia. Love that name. She seems to be living a great life. She has a career she’s passionate about, friends who love her, and a husband she seems kind of fond of.

Maybe that’s why she didn’t want a puppy. She already had one.

Of course, things aren’t as good as they appear. We soon find out that Adeline was one of those babies we saw at the start of the episode. The other baby was Sonia, the painter.

Annabelle Dexter-Jones in American Horror Story.

And yes, both of these characters are played by Annabelle Dexter-Jones.

Adeline has stepped away from their family, and whatever dark things they do. But the family isn’t happy with her decision. And if she isn’t going to come back willingly, they’re going to make her.

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What worked

To start with, I loved the character, Adeline. She is fierce, she is fearless, and relentless. I feel like this would have been a far different story if Adeline had been our main character. It was astounding to see her interact with the same people Anna has, and get a completely different response. It’s clear now, how much everyone around Anna resents her for simply not being Adeline.

I also appreciated that there was just a shocking amount of blood in this episode. From the start when Adeline and Sonia are born, to the climactic end of Adeline, this episode is just drenched in blood.

Finally, I’m fascinated by the changes in this season from the book it’s based on. Because absolutely none of this was in the book. Compared to this, the book is heartwarming.

The book is kind of heartwarming even without the comparison.

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But I love the fact that, even with just two episodes left in the season, I have no idea what’s going to happen. I do not know what Anna is carrying. I do not know if she’s going to survive this. I do not know what these people want with her.

But I can’t wait to find out.

What didn’t work

All that being said, it is a bit frustrating to have no forward momentum in this episode. This was all backstory, and it felt like there wasn’t enough backstory to fill a full forty minutes. Because of that, it dragged. There were a lot of scenes that just didn’t need to be as long as they were. It felt like they could have cut that down considerably, and had some time to check in with our main characters at either the start or the end of the episode.

There are only two episodes left in the season, and I can honestly say I have no idea what’s going to happen. But so far the story has been dark, bloody, and provocative. So I hope they can manage to end it on a high note.

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4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

If you’re a fan of my work, please check out my latest story, Nova, on Paper Beats World. New chapters launch every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

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