Ghost Ship

Ah, the horror movie. Or more aptly named the gore movie. There is nothing about Ghost Ship that in any way distinguishes itself from any other horror movie out there. It makes the same mistake as most other horror films in that they replace fear with gore. Scary apparently means violent deaths instead of real fear. Ghost Ship actually begins on a promising note, before entirely squandering this with a story that doesn't even make sense on its own terms. Not that it matters a whit; the main purpose of this movie is to make people squeal and jump every so often with something unexpected. The action here takes place on an abandoned luxury liner lost at sea decades ago. It mysteriously appears in the Bering Straight, drawing Murphy (Gabriel Byrne, End of Days, Stigmata) and his salvage crew. They get off to a bad start when the ship flickers on and off their radar, although they can see it right in front of them.

Let's go ahead and establish that the ship is haunted. It takes a while for the crew to realize this, but this is just how it is. Something happened a long time ago, and most of the people on board died in a grisly fashion, as director Steve Beck (Thirteen Ghosts) recounts in a prologue. Now, Epps (Julianna Marguiles, The Man From Elysian Fields, What's Cooking?) thinks she keeps seeing a little girl, something that absolutely does not belong on a rusting ship. As they stay on the ship longer, stranger things begin to happen. Of course, people split up and begin to die. Epps is one of the few people who want to leave the boat, but a cache of gold discovered inside the ship, along with the potential millions they could net if they salvage the boat, strokes their sense of greed. The rest of the crew is a fairly nondescript bunch. There is the black guy (Isaiah Washington, Exit Wounds, Romeo Must Die), the guy who played opposite Marguiles in ER (Ron Eldard, Just a Kiss, Black Hawk Down), two random guys, and a guy who discovered the ship in the first place (Desmond Harrington, We Were Soldiers, Riding in Cars with Boys).

The ship looks great. It is a cavernous behemoth, crumbling under the weight of decades. The interiors are dank, dilapidated, and perfect for the setting. It's the story that ruins everything. Mark Hanlon (Buddy Boy) and John Pogue (Rollerball, The Skulls) falter as soon as they begin explaining exactly what is going on. Without revealing too much, the little girl (Emily Browning, The Man Who Sued God) is trying to help, while others are trying to hurt them. Given the explanation at the end of the movie, it makes no sense why all the ghosts don't do the same thing. It also makes no sense why everybody died in the first place. When people leave the theater more perplexed about why something is in a movie rather than accept what the filmmakers want, that is not a good sign. The characters do not stay consistent, since Beck portrays them as much too intelligent at the beginning of the film. It makes all their decisions once they get to the ship asinine. It is also obvious about halfway into the movie who is responsible and who will survive. It's this halfway point where Ghost Ship turns from mildly interesting to dumb. Worst of all is the ending. It is about the same as most other horror films, but leaves the viewer with a tremendous sense of exasperation.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 31 minutes, Rated R for strong violence/gore, language, and sexuality.

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