GHOST SHIP sets sail on just the right foot. It’s 1962 aboard the Antonia Graza, a luxury liner bound for the states. But it’s not the setting that pulls you in- it’s the moment when a cable wire bursts through the open dance floor, slicing all in its path into pieces. After all is said and done, and the ship’s deck is covered in blood and guts, you’re left the wonder- what the hell just happened?
The perfect beginning to a less-than-perfect movie. Dark Castle Entertainment once again pulled me into a mediocre horror flick that had the makings of a classic. I should have learned my lesson after Thir13een Ghosts. Despite the decent effort from screenwriters Mark Hanlon and John Pogue (who also wrote THE SKULLS and is at the helm of QUARANTINE 2: TERMINAL), the movie literally sinks after the first scene.
The story is simple enough. After the slice and dice, we meet Captain Sean Murphy (Gabriel Byrne) and his salvage crew doing what they do best- salvaging. Modern day treasure hunters, if you will. After a long days work and a couple of beers, the crew meets Jack- a scientist with a whole bunch of photos pointing to an abandoned cruiser in the open ocean. He agrees to take them to the site if they split the profits- and take him along. Despite the strange scenario, they agree and off they go on their adventure.
Once on board the ship, the crew encounters every cliché in the book. Epps (Juliana Margulies) spots the ghost of a little girl named Katie (played by horror-staple Emily Browning). There’s maggots in the food supply. Haunting voices in the brig. You name it, it’s there- only backed by poor acting efforts, horrible graphics, and terribly written dialogue.
Finally, the crew discovers the ship’s biggest secret- crates of gold hidden in the cargo room. Unclaimed and unmarked, the crew agrees to take the gold in place of fixing the ship for salvage money. Just like the ever-lasting forbidden fruit, the removal of the gold leads to dire consequences, forcing the crew to reevaluate the situation and take a real look at what’s happening on this corpse of a ship.
In the end, the film tries to redeem itself with an interesting plot twist. As if we didn’t already know, Jack is revealed as the villain- a collector of souls for the devil himself. He uses the gold to trick people into doing the unthinkable then sends their spirits to hell. Ok- I buy it- but it would have been much more effective if the story had held the same momentum as the opening scene. Instead, it took a downward spiral after the first ‘scare’ and never recovered.
GHOST SHIP had the potential to be a great movie with inventive gore, tricky twists, and engaging scenery. However, after the first frame, it was a let-down. It fed into everything a bad horror movie is= fill of clichés, bad acting, and less-than-effective scares. Even the soundtrack lacked luster- everything from the haunting melodies to hard rock just didn’t fit.
This is one voyage I should have skipped.
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