It’s really difficult to get excited about a film like “Ghost Ship”.
The words ‘competent’ and ‘workmanlike’ come to mind when thinking about it. As directed by VFX pro Steve Beck, this is the very definition of a major studio-backed, middle-of-the-road horror thriller. It’s not taboo-breaking or grungy enough to offend a multiplex audience and fails gorehounds who would be looking for something more extreme and transgressive.
The film, one of the first released by the Robert Zemeckis/Joel Silver genre label Dark Castle, pitches us into party night on the cruise ship Antonia Grazia. It’s 1962 and the well-to-do passengers are enjoying an evening of dancing and dining until mysterious forces conspire to abruptly curtail the celebrations. Forty years later, a roughneck crew of marine salvagers led by old soak Gabriel Byrne and his number two Juliana Margulies get a tip about a floating cruise liner in the Baring Straits which promises them the mother of all paydays.
As soon as the salvage team go aboard, strange events spark a realisation that the full story of the Antonia Graza’s disappearance has not been told and that the past is about to repeat itself, bloodily.
We’re in similar territory to “Event Horizon”, I suppose, with a ship-bound crew being hunted by ghostly anatagonists who are eternally bound to the site of their demise and hunting any living soul unlucky enough to cross their paths. There’s a fairly elemental horror movie morality at play in the film, with any character greedy enough to suppose that they can profit from the sins of the past being rudely advised otherwise but the vast majority of these demises are without weight.
There’s a real lack of character development and plot momentum, with the ending and survivors in sight from the get-go. Even the cyclical nightmare ending is somewhat predictable, as the film’s rules have established that the events in the climax can easily be unravelled for the sake of a quick chill as the credits begin to roll.
Neither annoyingly inept or amazingly profound, “Ghost Ship” is a horror film as vague and insubstantial as many of it’s computer-generated phantoms.