★★★1/2 out of ★★★★★
A brand new horror-romance-comedy from the mind of F.C. Rabbath.
Directed by F.C. Rabbath
Ghosts have haunted hotel rooms since time immemorial and horror movie fans wouldn’t have it any other way. From the honeymoon suite in Ti West’s The Innkeepers (2011) to room 237 in The Shining (1980) to room 1408 in… well, 1408 (2007), there’s an ever-growing list of haunted hotel rooms in movies. With the latest project from writer/director F.C. Rabbath we can add The Waiting‘s room 101 to the list.
The Waiting opens with two very determined members of the hotel’s housekeeping staff, Sally [Laura Altair; Crisis Hotline (2019)] and Michelle [Michelle Feliciano; The Favorite (2019)], making their way to the infamous room 101. A timer is set for 60 seconds, the door is unlocked, and a frenzy of cleaning begins; both women hoping to be done and gone before the timer goes off. The pacing of the scene, the urgency of the actors, and the wonderful score by Valentin Boomes all fit together perfectly. The audience isn’t sure exactly what happens if the room cleaning takes longer than 60 seconds, but it definitely feels like something to be avoided.
With an opening like that, Rabbath solidly hooks the viewer and sets up the movie as a straight up supernatural horror flick. When that turned out not to be the case once lovelorn Eric [Nick Leali; A Brilliant Monster (2018)] was introduced I was pleasantly surprised. The Waiting has a number of interesting twists which Rabbath handles with aplomb and great deal of heart.
Nick Leali as the main character, Eric, does a phenomenal job. Coming across as humble, good natured, and sincere, Leali seems to be made for romantic comedy. Either that or a live-action Wreck-It Ralph — a resemblance brought up in The Waiting which I found particularly amusing. His opposite in the film, the spectral resident of room 101 [Molly Ratermann; Suicide (2015)], does a decent (albeit silent) job as an emotive sounding board for Leali’s anxious ramblings. And I particularly enjoyed Michelle Feliciano in her supporting role as the somewhat cynical, every-woman-for-herself housekeeper, Michelle.
The special effects in The Waiting are subtle for the most part and fit nicely into each scene, but it’s Valentin Boomes‘ score that truly shines. With hints of Danny Elfman and a touch of Bear McCreary, Boomes deftly carries the movie. I can’t say I remember much about his music in F.C. Rabbath’s previous film, A Brilliant Monster (2018), so Valentin, if you’re reading this, just keep doing whatever it is you’ve been doing for the last two years. It’s working!
The Waiting is a surprising, heartfelt movie that will definitely appeal to all you romantic souls out there. Adding in the horror-adjacent elements gives it a little extra spice. Die hard horror fans will likely find it a bit too tame, but if you’re looking for a “date movie” and you’ve got a soft spot for hauntings The Waiting may be the compromise you’re looking for.
The Waiting is currently being submitted to film festivals far and wide. As soon as we hear of any dates and locations for screenings, we’ll let you know!