A salvage crew that discovers a long-lost 1962 passenger ship floating lifeless in a remote region of the Bering Sea soon notices, as they prepare to tow it back to land, that “strange things” happen… (IMDB synopsis)
Time to break my streak of posting Yeerie YouTubes! This is one I dug out of Poundland the last time I went. I always seem to walk out of there with something, and occasionally it’s a DVD. I also found March of the Penguins, which was a nice nostalgia trip for me. I just love the sound they make when they bellyflop and slice on the ice… Sorry, I’m meant to talk about this horror film. Well, it should be good as the DVD cover implores me to ‘SEA EVIL’ and promises the film will ‘scare you shipless’. …Yeeeeees.
We’re greeted by some music straight out of Bedknobs and Broomsticks and the film’s title in curly pink writing. But never mind that now – we’re on the deck of an Italian cruiseliner, where a lady in a dress the colour of Heinz Tomato Soup sings to numerous dancing passengers, including a young girl. Just then, someone below deck tampers with a lever, causing a length of wire upstairs to slice everyone in half – quite amusingly, I might add. The little girl is the only one spared thanks to her height, and she screams.
In the present day, we meet a crew of salvagers led by Captain Murphy, who is played by Gabriel Byrne (and I hope he does a better job than he did in End of Days). After successfully bringing a tugboat in, they celebrate by going to a local bar, ordering a round of drinks and, er, toasting the sea. A pilot by the name of Jack Ferriman tells them of a ship adrift in international waters, and he’ll settle for a 10% cut of whatever they earn from salvaging it IF he can come with. Guess he’s coming with!
So off sets the Arctic Warrior and it soon finds the ship in question, the Antonia Graza, which is apparently the ship of Murphy’s dreams that mysteriously disappeared one day. And now she’s theirs for the taking. They climb aboard and discover that there are no lifeboats, no life preservers, no fuel in the tanks, no anchors and no survivors… except for a ghost girl that one crew member spots, but she doesn’t bring it up. At first the plan is to tug the Antonia Graza back before anyone else does, but when they find a hidden stash of gold bars, their priorities change slightly. It’s just a shame that this ship is hella haunted and set on driving the greedy salvagers to their untimely deaths, as haunted ships are wont to do.
I’d put this film on the better side of average, but it isn’t a great film by any means. I think all the maritime terminology is pretty accurate and everything (with a few exceptions) and the story isn’t half bad. There are just a few plots holes and various other details that take away from the overall quality.
The main character turns out not to be Captain Murphy, wise old cove that he is. In fact, the character we’re meant to focus on is Maureen Epps, who is sort of a daughter figure to the captain and can make a cup of tea in under 30 seconds, cutting my own record time in half. Yes, she is THAT good. She’s the first person to get a sense that something is a little off about the Antonia Graza, and seems to be the most sensible member of the crew, as the gold has a hold on everyone else for the duration of the film.
She’s also, as you might expect, the final girl. Spoiler alert, the others die for their sins on board the ship. I expected it with Greer, because he’s a black dude and due to be married, which in most horror movies makes him double dead. He dies because of his lust; the captain’s downfall is arguably his pride; Munder and Dodge have their buckets kicked due to their sloth and gluttony, I suppose, and Santos (who may or may not have a thing for car parts) gets blown up because… well, mainly to serve the plot in some small way. Or perhaps having a thing for cars is enough to get you killed in this film; the ship might be afraid he’ll start hitting on her.
Now, about the title, Ghost Ship. The way ghosts work in this film is a little inconsistent. A vampish ghost of the former singer, Francesca, can apparently give Greer a smooch, but when he goes to embrace her later on, he passes right through her body and falls down an elevator shaft – which was precisely what she wanted, but how did Fran know that would work? Also, the ghost girl named Katie has a locket pass through her hand, but sitting on a chair is no problem for her. Oh, and it’s very handy that this little girl on a mostly Italian liner happens to be an English speaker.
The ship itself seems to be possessed or sentient in some way – this is how the Arctic Warrior gets blown up and it explains a lot of other mysterious happenings. It turns out that way back in the 60’s, the crew of the Antonia Graza decided to kill all the passengers in order to claim the gold for themselves, but then THEY were killed by *GASP* Jack Ferriman?! I KNEW that name wasn’t just a coincidence! Yes, it was the affable Ferriman all along, whose job it is to collect souls for ‘Management’ (presumably working at Hell Inc.), and he can only collect damned souls, so first he has to lure people back to the Antonia Graza and hope that their greed for the gold bars will prevent them from calling in their discovery so they won’t be traced back to the ship, AND hope that their greed would damn their souls enough for him to harvest them, and some of the people he killed back in the 60’s were ‘marked’ by him so they’d be working on his side aaaaaaaand so on and so on.
You know, I’ve just realised what I don’t like about this film. It doesn’t scare me. At all. I’m not even a little bit spooked. WoooOOOooOo000oo… the ballroom is tidying itself! Oh nooooooo, the indoor pool is filling up with CGI bloooood! It seems like they’re trying to pass off some pretty tame goings-on as really frightening. It’s strange, because the film doesn’t hold back much on gore and death, and yet none of it has any effect on me. They couldn’t even make Ferriman seem like a creepy character; as soon as he has to be evil, he put on a not-very-impressive dark and monotone voice. Very poor!
I’m sorry, I think I got more annoyed as I went along writing this. Maybe on your first time viewing the film, you can overlook the things I’ve mentioned and get lost in the story. But I’ll say what I said earlier – this film is fine, but it’s not great. In fact, the whole hellish twist towards the end began to give me Event Horizon flashbacks. I probably shan’t be watching it again, unless my dad wants to because he likes it.
5 jam sandwiches.