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IN SHORT: Everybody sing: "The Death Boat . . . soon will be making a short lived run . . ." [Rated R for strong violence/gore, language and sexuality.]
If you plant for Ghost Ship expecting the kind of slice 'n' dice flick that has pretty much been the standard since John Carpenter's Halloween, you're not going to be happy. Actually, we used to send Troma-screenwriter Trent Haaga to these things for a more practiced (or, considering the genre, jaundiced) eye, but he's in Hollywood. We'll quote the horrorfreak who sat behind us for Ghost Ship instead:
"This movie sucks"
Now, for everyone else not seeking a slice 'n' dice flick, Ghost Ship tries to tread that fine line now defining what used to be called a suspense-thriller movie. Now mixed with several creatively gory murders to try and keep the kidlets happy, we join the crew of the salvage tug Arctic Explorer -- based in Anchorage, AK -- as it discovers the floating wreck of the Antonia Graza, an Italian luxury liner that vanished without a trace forty years ago (That's 1962, if you're reading the Cranky Archives). 600 incredibly wealthy passengers. 500 crew devoted to their every need. 1100 malevolent ghosts haunting the wreck which is floating towards some charted rocks which will surely sink it in three days time. Just enough time to get in, find as much loot as possible, and get the hell off.
Our salvage crew: Captain Sean Murphy (Gabriel Byrne), First Mate Greer, (Isaiah Washington), techs Dodge (Ron Eldard), Munder (Karl Urban), Santos (Alex Dimitriades) and fiery femme salvage team leader Maureen Eps (Julianna Margulies) are guided to the wreck by Canadian Air Force pilot Jack Ferriman (Desmond Harrington) who just happened to fly over the thing a couple of times. Strangely enough, what these intrepid scavengers actually find on the ship doesn't jibe with long held legends. There are bullet holes in the pool. There are fresh bodies in the bilge (forgive the alliteration). There is one little girl ghost (Emily Browning) watching every movement of our corpses, er, crew with wide open eyes. There is fresh, wet blood everywhere.
The fanboy behind us walked out of Ghost Ship when the movie appeared to be over. Silly boy forgot that all horror-type flicks have big surprise endings slapped on to 'em, whether they need it or not. In this particular case, it's a surprise that makes no bloody sense. Then again, the way this atrocious script tries to explain the what and why of what is happening is so flat out dumb (and badly executed on the big screen) that we were writhing in our seats. From disbelief. In short . . .
This movie sucks
It isn't just director Steve Beck's insistence on using that old film school artifice of repeating a two-three second sequence over and over again in slow motion -- usually it's to provide a second cheap thrill when a body part is impaled, here it is used to make an "emotional" story point, we think. Most of the actual impalements happen conveniently off screen. No impact. No slice 'n' dice, although you do get to see the after effects. Specifically: the first five minutes or so of the movie is all you need to sit for. It is, and we are avowed disavowers of the genre, clever and incredibly disgusting in execution and result, even if it doesn't make sense from an engineers point of view. If the rest of Ghost Ship had been up to this firs mass murder, the theater ushers would've needed ice scrapers to get the fanboys out of their seats.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Ghost Ship, he would have paid . . .
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