A Movie Review Just for You at
Director: Steve Beck
Writers: Mark Hanlon
Gabriel Byrne – Murphy
Julianna Margulies – Epps
Ron Eldard – Dodge
Desmond Harrington – Ferriman
Isaiah Washington – Greer
Alex Dimitriades – Santos
Karl Urban – Munder
Emily Browning – Katie
Francesca Rettondini – Francesca
Boris Brkic – Chief Steward
Robert Ruggiero – Captain
Running time: 91 Minutes
Year of Release: 2002
To sum up: With terrorists making planes far more scary than any movie ever could, we get a haunted ship.
“I am so bored.”
With music that is deceptively sprightly, Ghost Ship opens with a scene that, while not practical in the application of physics, is very good for the ick factor. It's pretty gross. It's also, I have to admit, pretty cool.
Sadly, "Ghost Ship", while at times entertaining, never lives up to, or achieves the same level of creepiness.
Gabriel Byrne plays Murphy, the head of an ocean salvage and repair crew which contains an eclectic group of "types" played by a variety of actors; the most famous being Julianna Margulies as Epps. She's the level headed but gung-ho one of the group. I know this because, when introduced, she's defying Murphy's orders to stop working on an underwater welding job, and she's gonna get that job done no matter what!
One day, while relaxing at a bar after a tough job, the team is approached by a pilot named Ferriman (Desmond Harrington). Seems that while flying about, he's "discovered a ship sitting in the middle of the ocean". Even though they are tired, the crew decides to join him and hit the ocean one more time to salvage the ship.
But this is no ordinary derelict. Wouldn't ya know it, it's the same ship we saw at the beginning of the movie. It's the famous Italian ship, the "Antonio Graza", which disappeared on May 21, 1962. "No distress signal."
Now, the ship is dark, damp, and rusted. It creaks. It groans. And before you know it, Julianna thinks that she sees a little girl. Is she imagining things? Is the ship haunted? Is the movie called Ghost Ship?
Soon our heroes are fighting for their very lives as the creepy craft commits to killing to collect their souls.
The film has the right idea. It has a pretty decent atmosphere. It just doesn't pull off the scares like it should.
One of the first problems is the fact that like most current films, characterization is kept at a minimum. A tip-off would be the fact that of all of the characters listed, most have only first names. Nope, don't know very much about these people at all. Right away, there's a limitation of how much you are going to be interested in the fates of these people. And the sad fact is that you have to be invested in the characters so that at least, when the danger comes and threatens them, it makes you more involved. If that doesn't happen, then all that occurs will be simple visual stimulation. Eye candy.
Another drawback is that there's not much new thrown at us that we haven't seen before in some form or another. There are especially echoes of Poltergeist and The Shining throughout the film.
The third problem is that the film is unclear as to exactly what its supernatural rules are and where the threat should be. Is it the "ghosts" that are the evil or is it something else? Well, it's clear that it's something else, but it never plays up the "angry souls of the damned " aspect as well as it could.
Finally, there's the whole process of collecting the souls anyway. Who is behind it is never made clear. All we learn is that it's being done for "management". Management? What, the management at Warner Brothers? I think a little more clarity is in order, please.
Sadly, this film doesn't have a ghost of a chance.
(2002. Reviewed by Frederick Holbrook)