a critiQal film review Ghost Ship (2002)

Plot: A salvage team is approached by a man who claims to have seen an ocean liner adrift in the sea. For a percentage, he’ll tell them where it is. They agree and come across the Antonia Graza, caught on a current, with a hole in her hull, heading for certain destruction...and with a lot of gold in her cargo hold. After an accident destroys their boat and leaves them stranded on the Antonia Graza, they realize the ship already has a few inhabitants...

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  • ...a decent horror flick made better by some amazing special effects.

Is it just me, or has there been quite a rush of ghost movies lately? The Sixth Sense (1999) started it, I think. With the success of that film, everyone suddenly realized the money that could be had from making ghost pictures. Now, we’re seeing the effects of that success. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at The Others (2001), Thir13en Ghosts (2001), remakes of House on Haunted Hill, The Haunting and The Shining (1980), etc. for the results…and Ghost Ship, of course.

The major difference? These aren’t just aimed at teenyboppers (okay, most of them aren’t). They’ve realized that ghost movies can include the older crowds, as well as the teenyboppers. It’s a nice thing to see, but it does seem to be getting a bit overdone (a remake of Stanley Kubrick’s film The Shining (1980)? Why? Who could ever do it better then Jack?).

So how did Ghost Ship measure up in this newly popular genre? It didn’t sink, that’s for sure.

The actors all played their characters very well. Julianna Margolis, of “ER” (TV) makes the transition to feature films quite well. She plays her character with a lot of realism, and seems to have been practicing for feature films during all her years at “ER” (TV).

Most TV shows, the actors don’t play up to their full potential, but “ER” (TV) has seemed to pull out the best of their actors. Maybe it’s just that their storylines are more involved, I’m not sure. Of course, all of the “ER” (TV) shows are shot with a seemingly higher quality of show in mind, so maybe that helps the actors get more into the storyline, and perform better. I’m sure it was a great help for Julianna when she started acting in Ghost Ship.

Gabriel Byrne also comes through again, and seems to stay with his almost mysterious character acting, which seems to be working for him. Of course, after seeing End of Days (1999), all other roles seem a bit small for him, don’t they?

The plot was definitely more involving in Ghost Ship then in most horror films. It starts out simply enough, with this salvage team going after an ocean liner that’s full of ghosts. Finding out what caused the entire crew and passengers to become ghosts is what makes it interesting.

They did a good job filling in that part of the story …rather then showing it all in the beginning, they give you a shocking teaser, then keep hinting at different aspects of it until finally filling you in. It keeps the viewer’s interest, and you almost begin to worry they won’t fill you in before the film is over, but they do.

The fast pace of the film definitely helps keep your interest as well, and there never seems to be a dull moment.

The special effects were amazing. Too many times, horror/suspense films try to go for the gross-out, end up showing too much, and fail miserably. The effects done in this film are a nice combination of cgi (of course) and live action, and they are mixed together seamlessly into some stunning effects. Some of the effects, such as a death scene involving 80-100 people in the beginning of the film, have many chances to fail, but come through remarkably in this film. This is one of the few films I’ve seen where they go for the gross-out, and it works.

With the amazing backdrop of a decaying ocean liner behind them, the characters live up to the trailer, and come through shining. The storyline, while beginning simple, keeps you hooked throughout, and the special effects are spectacular.

Next time your in for a good horror/thrill-ride of a film, check out Ghost Ship. Everyone is welcome aboard, although there may be a bit of a problem leaving…

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