Sarah and Jason are a happy couple, living in Shanghai and raising their son Sammy. Jason is a hard worker, dedicated to the opening of his company’s newest office. Sarah (King) is a loving mother. Sammy is a typical kid with a rampant imagination and trouble sleeping in his own bed.
Jason receives a phone call in the middle of the night, informing him of his uncle’s death. Soon, the trio travel to the funeral during the festival known as Ghost Month. Sammy (Chen) almost stumbles into the forbidden part of the house, but he is stopped by Jason’s last living uncle. That scare is enough for him, and Sarah takes Sammy out of the house for some fresh air.
After running into an old photographer friend, Blake (Terminator and Aliens’ Michael Biehn), Sarah finds a pharmacist, and Sammy finds more information on the demons he sees. Soon, Sammy comes face to face with his first demon, and a possible mentor in the strange pharmacist (Henry O). Sammy has a gift no one wants – the ability to see the dead as they come to accept the sacrifices offered them during the festival. Sammy gets his gift from his mother and she soon begins seeing her own troubled visions.
Sammy soon encounters an inviting ghost who leads him back to the forbidden area. This lab houses the processing facility where the deceased uncles employed their workers. The Chinese Humanitarian Society would often process corpses and return the bones back to their homeland. In this place, under frightening conditions, Sammy undergoes a change, setting forth the moments that will define his life, his mother and the relationship they share.
King has developed into a well-rounded actress, showing more acting chops than legs in this creepy flick. Chen is great as the focal point of the film’s first act, shifting from careful curiosity to outright panic as the script demands.
They Wait will inevitably be compared to other Asian horror films and while there are similarities, any connection should be limited to genre alone. Ghosts and children have been at the heart of horror for decades, and while They Wait bears similarities to films like The Eye, it can just as easily be compared to Poltergeist. King’s need to track down the truth between worlds mirrors films like The Ring and The Grudge, but the film’s creativity arms it with a solid chance to overcome the retread of popular premises. Sarah’s willingness to sacrifice for her son’s life provides the payoff pitch. Justice for those who deserve it is the key to whether or not viewers rank They Wait as its own film and not a re-tread hinges on this climax.
Hal Beckett’s original music accentuates the jumps and jolts of the film. The music is beautifully supportive of the film’s peace, making shocks stand out even more.