Movie Review: "Ghost Ship" (2002)
DISCLAIMER: This review may contain spoilers.
"Ghost Ship" is another great example of a wasted opportunity to properly execute a worthwhile idea. "Ghost Ship" is to the ocean what "Event Horizon" is to space. They actually have a lot in common -- Derelict ships that aren't really that scary, characters which seem be to variations of those from "Alien", and not to mention, one is made by Paul W.S. Anderson while the other seems to be inspired by him.
The story in "Ghost Ship" is centered around an Italian ocean-liner in which a horrendous event killed everyone aboard except one little girl back in the '60s. Jump to present day where a salvage crew (led by Gabriel Bryne) is hired by Canadian weather pilot to salvage the now derelict ocean-liner. Long story short, the weather guy is really a ghost who is partly responsible for the deaths of those aboard the ship along with a bunch of gangsters dressed up as cooks.
The opening sequence of the film almost works at making us believe that this is a creepy thriller set aboard a ghost ship, but immediately following that comes the testosterone-influenced, MTV-stylized nonsense. I wonder if anyone in the theaters demanded their money back after the first 15-20 minutes or so, because they were lied to on what kind of movie this really was.
Indiana Jones and the Not-So Scary Ghost Ship
Anyone who got scared by watching "Ghost Ship" probably gets easily frightened just by looking at themselves in the mirror. I mean how stupid do you have to be to fall for these kinds of tricks? In fact, "Ghost Ship" makes zero effort to build up any dreadful atmosphere despite the film's dreadful setting (which is so unfortunate).
"Ghost Ship" is nothing but shock value. Oh, look, they're on a haunted ship in the middle of the ocean! Paycheck please? To me, it seems that Hollywood was trying to sell "Ghost Ship" to audiences on its idea alone but nothing else. They might as well not even bothered conjuring up a screenplay for it.
If anything, "Ghost Ship" falls more in line with a poor-man's treasure-hunting flick than anything else. Right from the get-go, the film establishes our heroic crew as money chasers, they discuss how much the ship could be worth, how they plan to split the money, and then they even find gold on the ship itself.
Actually, that's all "Ghost Ship" is really about, a bunch of people finding gold on a ship. The dead people are just in the background and don't really do much to justify their significance in the film's genre.
Horror Movie No-No's
It seems that "Ghost Ship" and "Blair Witch 2: Book of Shadows" have something in common. They both think that rock music sets the mood well in a horror film. Once again... IT DOESN'T. Rock music period completely diminishes any sense of fear in a movie that's supposed to be scary.
Furthermore, there's a montage later in the film, followed by another dreadful rock tune, where the backstory behind the ghost ship is shown to us. The way it is executed reminds me of the following: "Quantum of Solace", "Resident Evil", and an Armani advertisement. This is supposed to be a horror film, right?
Last but not least, let's talk about the final scene in the film. After we find out that the dead cooks with machine guns were responsible for the murder of everyone aboard the ghost ship, our female protagonist makes it to safety and is awaiting transport inside an ambulance. Right before the doors close, she sees the dead cooks and their leader boarding another ship -- Cue angry rock music again -- I'm sorry, but I can't help but think I'm watching another horrible "Resident Evil" sequel.
Remedies for "Ghost Ship"
- Kill the rock music, please.
- A director who is not under the influence of Paul W.S. Anderson.
- Drawing upon more inspiration from the Mary Celeste story would help, as would making this a bit more of a mystery as opposed to a straight-forward cookie cutter horror flick.
- Dead gangster cooks as the cause behind the ghost ship simply cannot be taken seriously.
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