Ghost Ship (2002)
By: J.R. McNamara on August 9, 2005  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
DVD
Roadshow (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1. English Subtitles. 87 minutes
The Movie
Credits
Director: Steve Beck
Starring: Gabriel Byrne, Julianna Margulies, Ron Eldard, Desmond Harrington, Isaiah Washington,
Alex Dimitriades, Karl Urban, Emily Browning, Francesca Rettondini
Screenplay:Mark Hanlon, John Pogue
Country: USA
Dark Castle Entertainment seems to make their movies as if they are hosting a dinner party. They want to make something that caters to everyone's tastes. They somehow mix Hollywood gloss with the dirtiness of B movies, gore with creepiness, celebrities with smaller bit part actors. They are the ultimate marketers, like their namesake, William Castle, they find gimmicks to get people in to watch their movies. While not making perfect movies, their marketing skill definitely works, as both the horror fan and the average movie go'er all see their films. The quality of their films have been hit or miss, but never excellent. Movies like Gothika and Thir13en Ghosts have been definite misses, while House of Wax (2005) and House on Haunted Hill (1999) have been minor hits. Ghost Ship fits into the latter.

In 1962, the cruise ship Antonia Graza suffered a terrible violent fate, and disappeared. Three decades later it is found floating adrift by pilot, Jack Ferriman (Desmond Harrington) who creates a partnership with the Captain of tug boat Arctic Warrior, Captain Sean Murphy (Gabriel Bryne) along with his partner Maureen Epps (Julianna Margulies) and their rag tag crew of salvagers (Isaiah Washington, Karl Urban, Alex Dimitriades and Ron Eldard) whom are to recover the boat and claim it's booty as their own. Soon after arriving at the ship, tragedy strikes and the crew are trapped on a ship which appears to have many hidden and ghostly secrets. One of the ghosts, Katie (Emily Browning, in a very mature performance) seems to be trying to give Epps assistance but something seems to be hindering them at every turn and picking them off, one by one.

With influences as diverse as Poltergeist, The Shining, Ghost Story and even Moby Dick, Ghost Ship comes across as a pretty decent ghost story. Not necessarily the usual bitter, ruthless disquiet ghost (although there are a few), the ultimate reason for this haunting is a satisfying change from the norm. Ghost Ship is directed by Steve Beck who appears to be trying to redeem himself from the miscast and foolish Thir13en Ghosts. The only problems are that it is never quite creepy enough, and the ending is a little too Twilight Zone like.
Video
This film is presented in a crystal clear 1.85:1. The colours are dulled to give the appearance of a submerged murkiness. It being a sea faring flick the majority of the colours are greens and blues, but when there is a flash of red: Francesca's dress, explosions or good old fashion human claret, it stands out beautifully.
Audio
Every creak and groan of the phantom ship comes through clearly on this Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. The ghostly echoes and creepy underwater effects really add to the atmosphere. Loud effects like explosions are so sudden and alien they almost seem like they don't belong, which is really effective.
Extra Features
Lots of special features that don't really amount to much on this disc:

Cast and Crew – Text feature with previous films the cast have previously worked on.

Documentary – A 15 minute feature about the origins of Dark Castle and the making of the film. This is just a fluff piece with no outstanding elements.

Secrets of the Antonia Graza – An interactive feature where you have to find four mini-movies about Francesca the singer, the previous salvagers who found the ship, the crew's plans for the mutiny and Katie, the little girl. This is one of those features that the work to find them is far too much for the cheap rubbish payoff.

A Closer Look at the Gore – A five and a half minute look at the gore effects, just an overview with not much to it, but interesting if you like special effects.

Designing the Ghost Ship – A five minute forty second piece, about the design of the interior and exterior of the ship. A pretty interesting feature showing the miniatures and full size sets, and how they were dressed to look like an old rusted out hulk. It was nice to see the Americans compliment the work and work ethics of the Australian crew.

Music Video – Not Falling by Mudvayne. The worst music clip I have seen on a special features menu. Just a montage of clips from the movie with no band shots at all. Really sloppy.

Trailer – Surprisingly a trailer of the film Ghost Ship.
The Verdict
Really nothing more than House on Haunted Hill at sea. People trapped with vengeful ghosts in an environment they can't escape. This is an effective horror theme that runs through many films, and generally works. Ghost ship seems a bit disjointed at times, and the surprise bad guy is telegraphed from the start, but all in all this isn't a bad film. If nothing else, it's worth watching just for the first five gory minutes.
Movie Score
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