Ghost Ship

***

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

When a storyline snaps, it can't be mended. This happens with Ghost Ship.

Before credibility dies at the hands of Satan's servant, the film has an odd, creepy fascination, like standing in the presence of the supernatural. It can't be explained, but can be felt.

In 1962, on a South American cruise liner, an inexplicable accident befalls the passengers and crew. Nothing is heard of the boat for 20 years, until a shy young man (Desmond Harrington) approaches a salvage captain (Gabriel Byrne) in a bar and makes an unusual proposition.

He says that he has discovered the whereabouts of the big ship, floating in Arctic waters, within close proximity of rocky outcrops in an area of sea where the international law of "finders keepers" operates. For a percentage of the spoils, the stranger is prepared to divulge the location of this floating tomb, on condition he is allowed to join the party.

Once on board the stricken liner, strange things occur, as you would expect - after all, this is the ghost ship - such as the discovery of gold ingots in the hold and the apparition of a young girl in a party frock (Emily Browning). The salvage crew, which includes a tough tomboy (Julianna Margulies), a T-shirted street fighter (Ron Eldard) and an erudite black guy (Isiah Washington) become threatened by forces beyond their understanding.

At this point, the film assumes the mantle of The Thing and other horror flicks that involve a small group, trapped in an inhospitable place, slowly being eliminated by special effects.

By the time the surprise ending is revealed, interest cannot be revived. Ghosts have rules, too. When a filmmaker breaks them for shock value, the fear factor is compromised.

Reviewed on: 22 Jan 2003
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Spooky things happen when a salvage crew board a stricken liner.
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Director: Steve Beck

Writer: Mark Hanlon, John Pogue

Starring: Gabriel Byrne, Julianna Margulies, Ron Eldard, Desmond Harrington, Isiah Washington, Alex Dimitriades, Karl Urban, Emily Browning, Francesca Rettondini

Year: 2002

Runtime: 91 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US/Australia

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