Ghost Ship

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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner24/01/2003

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 90 mins

Below-average horror flick that tails off after an impressive opening – the leads do their best and there are a few good moments but it’s never really scary.

Connoisseurs of extremely poor horror movies may like to note that Ghost Ship is – ahem - helmed by the same director who made last year’s execrable Thirteen Ghosts (easily one of the worst films of the year).

What’s more, it shares a production team with the equally dismal House On Haunted Hill from a couple of years ago. So it’s clear from the outset that quality is never going to be an option, although Ghost Ship is superior to the aforementioned fright flicks, purely on the basis of its cast and a couple of impressive set-pieces.

Opens Well…Then Drops Off

Unfortunately the film never tops its impressively gruesome opening scene, in which an entire roster of ship’s passengers (save for one little girl) is killed in a freak accident. Thereafter, the ship disappears, to be discovered some 40 years later by Gabriel Byrne (as ‘Murphy’) and his rag-tag crew of salvage merchants, including feisty Julianna Margulies (doing a decent cut-price Sigourney Weaver) and a bunch of other expendable types.

The plot adheres closely to the Big Book Of Horror Movie Clichés. They board the ship, they find treasure, they think they’ve struck it rich, but instead the “ship” traps them aboard and starts killing them off one by one. No surprises there, then.

There are elements here of several other horror films (as a director, Beck is nothing if not derivative), including The Shining, Event Horizon and pretty much every haunted house movie you’ve ever seen. There’s a certain amount of fun to be had in guessing which of the crew will get it next, but that’s really about it.

Death By Naked Ghoul

Byrne is excellent and really makes the most of his salty sea-dog-type monologues, and Margulies is a strong female lead. However, the other characters are largely unmemorable, except perhaps for Isaiah Washington, who frets about how his wife would feel about all this, shortly before copping off with (and getting offed by) a Naked Female Ghost. (That’s right, it’s the sort of film that includes Naked Female Ghosts, although that didn’t exactly help Thirteen Ghosts…)

For the most part, the direction is pretty poor, although there is an Impressively shot ‘explanatory’ sequence towards the end. However, shortly after this, the film takes a nosedive into the depths of ridiculousness and it never really recovers.

To sum up, then, Ghost Ship isn’t exactly unwatchable and definitely has its moments, but they are few and far between. It’s probably best seen on video, where at least you can laugh at it without a) having paid a tenner for it and b) being shushed by Bad Horror Movie Aficionados…

Film Trailer

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Content updated: 18/02/2020 06:04

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