The horror genre continues to move away from teenagers getting slashes to pieces to adults getting slashed to pieces. In the last two years, there has been a major shift from the struggling Scream clones to more serious, adult-driven horror films such as The Mothman Prophecies, Signs, Dragonfly, The Ring and Below, most of which include ghosts or monsters and an established cast (Richard Gere, Mel Gibson and Kevin Costner, respectively).
Ghost Ship continues this trend, placing a salvage crew (including the likes of Gabriel Byrne, Julianna Margulies, and Ron Eldard) on board a haunted ship with a terrible secret to tell. The crew stumbles across a gigantic ocean liner that disappeared forty years earlier, and they begin to think of a way to take it back to port. However, before they can, the crew begins to see things and the crew begins to die as the horrible secrets of the ship surface.
Ghost Ship is your typical ghost story. Change its location and cast, and you have another horror movie already made (actually, just change the cast and you have another movie). But people don't watch horror movies for their original plots, do they? Sure, it's a bonus, but a good horror movie just needs to be scary. It at least needs to be suspenseful. Unfortunately, Ghost Ship is not all that scary, but it is saved by the fact that is has some suspenseful moments and cool visuals.
First off, for those die-hard horror fans that believe that today's movies aren't gory enough, Ghost Ship may have a few good surprises. The movie starts off with one of the goriest scenes I have seen in a long time; it is well made and is absolutely stunning. This opening scene took my breath away, for the mere fact that I was so shocked that a modern day, widely released movie would have such blood. Kudos to the director and whoever else was involved in the scene.
The film jumps ahead to modern day where the salvage crew is inspecting the boat. The cast does a good job, although it's not too surprising considering the talent involved (Byrne is a highly respected actor, at least by me, as is Margulies, who won an Emmy for her performance in "E.R."). The dialogue is fairly simple but never really stupid, although it does try to get overly sentimental at times.
The movie has its share of creepy and suspenseful moments, although they never really amount to a whole lot. The plot intrigued me for a good two-thirds of the movie...
Unfortunately, Ghost Ship ends really poorly. Its last twenty minutes are piss poor, as it tries to do something original without actually being original. A lot of the salvage crew gets killed off as expected (might I note that once again the minorities are the first to be killed off), but then the story takes a turn for the worse as it presents us with an evil ghost that is collecting souls until he meets his quota. I don't know what the hell this is about, but it sounds really stupid on screen, and it had to sound even worse on paper. The screenwriter never explains why this evil ghost is on the ship or why he needs to meet a quota or why he even exists, so the audience is just supposed to accept this as is. I didn't buy it. It just sounded cheesy, and it ends up being cheesy.
Of course, one person (guess who) figures out a way to bring this ghost down, and does so. Or so he or she thinks. In reality, the ghost is "still alive," as revealed at the end of the movie. This is the most cliché thing that could happen in a horror movie, and Ghost Ship doesn't even do it well.
I liked the majority of Ghost Ship, but the ending is so terrible it ruins the entire film. It is worth seeing for the gory scenes, if that is what floats your boat (pun intended), and some may enjoy it for what it is, but the ending could have easily been a lot better.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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