Rated PG-13 - Running Time: 1:30 - Released 10/25/02
It is in the fun spirit of Halloween that we are inundated every October with horror movies which are usually somewhat creepy but at the same time mentally challenged. I presume it is in this same spirit that actors who normally involve themselves with projects that at least show a modicum of integrity sign on to these flagrantly stupid flicks. Its sort of like dressing up for a Halloween party: you know you dont really look like Queen Elizabeth, but thats the whole joke. Such is the case with Ghost Ship, a willfully idiotic tale about a crew of ocean bound salvage experts who discover a gigantic 40-year-old ocean liner adrift in the Bering Strait with a full complement of good ghosts and true aboard. The trouble is, this movie was filmed last March. Maybe it wasnt the Halloween spirit compelling those involved; maybe they were just still drunk from St. Pattys Day. At any rate, director Steve Beck thinks hes being serious, and so do writers Mark Hanlon and John Pogue. How embarrassing.
The star of this foundering vehicle is ER veteran Julianna
Margulies, who plays the only female crewmember in a group of
fearless, irreverent scamps aboard the tugboat Arctic Warrior.
Her character, Epps, along with her father-figure Captain Murphy
(Gabriel Byrne), are approached by a pilot named Jack Ferriman
(Desmond Harrington), who claims to have seen the long-lost ship
from his plane. When they arrive, the crew discovers that this
is none other than the Italian luxury liner Antonia Graza,
which disappeared in May of 1962. What the crew doesnt know
(but what we learn in an early flashback) is that those onboard
the ship all perished one fateful night when an entire dance floor
full of people were tragically cut in half, mid-rhumba, by a steel
cable which was apparently rigged up to do just that by some mysterious
killer. Whipping across the large ballroom like one of those wire
cheese-cutters they use at Hickory Farms, the cable felled everyone
but a young girl named Katie (Emily Browning), who escaped this
cheesy fate only because she was too short. Talk about getting
by under the wire. However, she was forced to watch everyone from
the captain (Robert Ruggiero), with whom she was dancing, to the
sexy Italian woman singing on the stage (Francesca Rettondini),
fall to the floor in bloody pieces, with horrified looks still
etched on their faces.
Soon after arriving, the members of the Warrior crew
go through the regular stock ghost-story experiences: they start
seeing things (like the apparitions of those named above), they
get a creepy vibe, and they start dying. But when they discover
a box full of solid gold ingots (the customary cargo for Italian
cruise liners of the 1960s), they are presented with a dilemma:
forget the gold and get out of there, or keep it and be rich?
As usual, this ghost story is full of logic errors and plot holes too numerous to mention, but it doesnt even distinguish itself from a visual point of view, as did director Becks only other film to date, last Octobers 13 Ghosts. The ship is ugly, the ghosts are boring, and the effects (with the possible exception of the cheese-cutter incident) are less than spectacular. The acting is generally adequate, but the actors are forced to utter such nonsense its hard to take them seriously. Im sure Byrne, Margulies, and the others (including Juliannas longtime boyfriend, Ron Eldard, and Isaiah Washington) found it difficult to deliver some of their lines with a straight face. If youre going to be seen paying to get into this one, it may be wise to keep your mask on. *½