Black October 30: Ghost Ship

October 30, 2009

I thought I’d seen this movie, but as I watched it just now, I realize I hadn’t. I think I was mixing it up with Virus, that movie with Jamie Lee Curtis, which I know I saw, but can’t remember. So Ghost Ship has been on my shelf all this time. I suppose this makes my random-access horror movie reviewing system worthwhile, but honestly, there are a couple of dozen other films I’d rather talk to you about, like Don’t Go In The Basement. But here we are with Ghost Ship.

It opens very strangely, with 60s Desilu-type titles and a swoony, dreamy tune. We realize we’re at sea, and it’s 1960 or so, and this is a luxury liner. What follows is one of the most gruesome scenes I’ve seen in a mainstream horror film, and it’s very, very well orchestrated.

The rest of the film? Not so much. This is a Hollywood attempt at blockbuster horror, so it has B-level actors, lots of action and stunt work, gloomy cinematography and, true to its time, incessant nu-metal music stings to make sure you know this is supposed to be scary.

The plot: A salvage crew learns of a luxury liner adrift in the Bering Sea, and heads north to find her and claim her. Once aboard, strange things begin to happen, visions appear, and it becomes clear that there is something on this boat that doesn’t want them to leave.

Gabriel Byrne heads the cast, and that gave me hope. Karl Urban’s in it, too. But so are Julianna Margulies and Ron Eldard, a couple, who were also on ER together and here play exactly the same characters: the tough woman and her mouthy subservient wanna-be boyfriend. And they don’t do it well. Margulies, who I have never thought of as a strong actress, mumbles her stupid dialogue while staring straight ahead at whoever’s in the scene with her. It’s bad, bad acting. And Eldard, who looks like a surfer here, falls back on his “Yo hey, I’m a dude” routine, which worked well on the short-lived American version of Men Behaving Badly, but is tiresome everywhere else.

A lot of money was spent on Ghost Ship, and it’s a slick-looking flick. Unfortunately, that isn’t enough to make it anything more than a quick popcorner. It barely even qualifies as a horror movie, in my book.


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