By RUBEN R. DIAZ
Starring Nick Leali, Molly Ratermann, and Laura Altair
Written by F.C. Rabbath
Directed by F.C. Rabbath
FC Rabbath Creations
THE WAITING from writer and director F.C. Rabbath (A Brilliant Monster, Lady Luck) is a ghostly horror film about a young man getting a new job at a haunted hotel that leads to laughs, love, and terror. Maybe.
Nick Leali (Echo Trap, Zelda’s Pepperonis) is Eric, a man searching for two things in life: love and work. Eric lives with his mom and tries to take care of the love problem through dating apps. However, each new romantic encounter quickly goes south. Fortunately, Eric’s mom has a friend who offers him a job, and the young slacker is off to work at a hotel named The Lodge. One out of two ain’t bad! The new gig brings new people into Eric’s life, including Sally (Laura Altair), a recently hired housekeeper. Through Sally and fellow housekeeper Michelle, played by Michelle Feliciano (The Favorite, Omniboat: A Fast Boat Fantasia), Eric learns about the haunted room 101, which he enters to face a ghost played by Molly Ratermann (A Wild Endeavor, The Negative Split) and finds…well, no spoilers!
Eric is a lovable and relatable character to follow, and Leali embodies him with a lot of charm. His moments early on with different dates are fun, though short-lived. The Lodge employees run the gamut from snarky housekeepers to the stern boss and an a-hole owner. It’s not a groundbreaking set of characters but a serviceably entertaining bunch, and the connections between the characters feel undoubtedly grounded and genuine.
Director F.C. Rabbath is no stranger to making a film, and here he serves as writer, editor, and cinematographer. It’s a heavy load for any one person. THE WAITING is built on a foundation made from an excellent premise that is ripe with potential. A lot like its protagonist Eric, THE WAITING is searching for two things: horror and comedy. This careful balance produces some incredible results like Shaun of the Dead or Tucker and Dale Vs. Evil. But for every one of those classics, there are a lot of misfires. THE WAITING is leaning toward a misfire, though not an egregious one. The biggest reason for the lackluster effect of THE WAITING is its lack of horror. Yes, the film is centered on a ghost, but the spirit doesn’t do much. Don’t expect The Conjuring or even Paranormal Activity level scares here. There’s one moment early on that’s well-executed, and then the horror side of the horror-comedy is mostly gone. What’s left behind is a drama with sprinkles of comedy that often meanders, seemingly unsure of what to do with itself. THE WAITING never dives deep into any of the genres it mixes around. It’s as if they put all these exciting ideas into a blender then walked away without turning it on.
THE WAITING is a competently made film that suffers more from a lack of time and money than vision. It’s hard to say whether it’s the script that falls short or the direction, but in this case, F.C. Rabbath took care of both duties, so he gets all the glory and all the blame. The film is severely underwritten, which leads to pacing issues. Characters are left underutilized, and though it tries to add in some dramatic and sweet twists at the end, they aren’t payoffs resulting from well-placed setups. As a horror film, I cannot recommend THE WAITING. There’s minimal horror in it. However, viewers will find an oddball sort of rom-com that never hits incredible highs but hovers just above average as an entertaining ghost story.