Sunday, June 26, 2016

Ghost Ship (2002) Review

Disclaimer: Contains spoilers!

Plot Summary: A salvage crew discovers the ocean liner they are attempting to repair is a literal ghost ship.

Review: You know, "Ghost Ship" receives a lot of undeserved hate. Sure, there are a ton of cornball moments and a serious plot hole at the heart of the premise, but it has a lot to appreciate as well. Supposedly the script underwent major changes before filming, but I like the way things turned out nonetheless. While they could have played up the scares, and pursued an ominous tone befitting of the setting, the action adds to the pacing which, in turn, helps to keep audiences invested. Besides, we don't get nearly enough ocean horror besides creature features and shark movies.

I'll briefly cover the story in order for the plot hole to be understood. Forty years prior, all the people on board an ocean liner are killed, and the ship is left adrift. In the "present," a salvage crew is enticed to recover the ship by a dork named Ferriman. For whatever reason, in all the years I've watched this movie, I never picked up that the guy's name was a, painfully obvious, play on ferryman. But, in my defense, they only said it a couple times while mostly calling him Jack. As you might tell, since I'm pointing it out, Ferriman is not all that he seems. Anyway, the salvage crew agrees to recover the ship which they find easily enough. While exploring the ship they realize they aren't the first to find this ocean liner and the clear implication that the passengers were murdered. When the crew is nearly about to freak out, they stumble upon a large amount of gold. Deciding to ditch the ship and stick with the gold, all hell breaks loose when their salvage ship blows up. This event tears the crew apart as they meander about the ocean liner running across ghosts. Eventually the main chick, Epps, is shown a vision of how the passengers were killed--betrayed by the crew who then turned on one another. However, the greedy crew that was after the gold was actually manipulated by Ferriman. As it turns out, Ferriman is some kind of demon or supernatural being that is adding souls to the ghost ship in order to send them to HELL! After everyone in the salvage crew is killed except Epps, she manages to blow the ocean liner up which frees all the trapped souls. Magically surviving when she should have realistically died, Epps is rescued by a cruise ship and returned to shore. Needing that final fucking zinger, Epps notices Ferriman, still alive after the ocean liner blew up, now boarding the cruise ship with more gold to entice another crew.

I don't know why I love this shot so much, but, hey, you get a young Emily "little Babydoll" Browning.

Okay, so what exactly is the problem with the story? Simply, why the fuck did Ferriman start killing members of the salvage crew before they fixed the ocean liner?! This dumbass' scheme is to fill the ship with souls before it can be sent to hell or whatever. If it is destroyed prematurely then his efforts have failed--he even says this. Yet this guy starts picking people off before they even begin to repair the hole or block it from hitting rocks. Now if you say, well, the salvage crew were going to take the gold and run without doing the repairs...wrong again! This dumbass was the one who showed them the gold in the first place; he could have kept silent. Finally, if you want to say he needed them to be corrupted before he could trap their souls, then that is a yet another fail. Only that dude who tried cheating on his fiance was--sorta--corrupted and the captain had a drink...big deal! No matter how you try to explain it away, this is a plot hole since Ferriman set into motion events counter to his own plan. And, no, he didn't plan it this way--this is called piss poor writing. Two people are credited with writing the script, and that is probably where this plot hole comes from. Other than this primary issue, there are moments of shoddy acting, questionable direction, and all around shenanigans. It's tough to explain, but there is just a general sense of mediocrity to parts of the story.

Now that we're through with the problems, let's go over the positives. The biggest advantage going for the entire film is the awesome opening; we get about 25-30 people all sliced in half. That is how you come out swinging! True, the bar is set extremely high--and the film can't live up to this scene--but it is undoubtedly a highlight. The acting might be shaky at times, but I loved the casual banter between many of the characters. You genuinely feel like these characters know each other well; this is a feat I wish other films would consider. I get that the twist with Ferriman isn't going to dazzle everyone, but it worked for me. This revelation upped the scope and added a layer of mythology to, what would have otherwise been, a by the numbers ghost story. Plus, the way they make Ferriman so overly dorky makes it funny to re-watch upon subsequent viewings. Last, it just wouldn't be me if I didn't acknowledge Francesca's spectral tatas!

I perfectly understand why plenty of people might not enjoy this movie, but it's still competently put together. There are a plethora of good ideas even if they aren't fully utilized. The opening death scene is legendary, yet, this fundamentally hurts the final impression for the audience as the film itself can't maintain that level of quality. When you factor in the gaping plot hole with the many instances of mediocrity, the score is severely lowered. Nevertheless, I think there are more than enough positive aspects to warrant a fairly decent rating. To sum it up: "Ghost Ship" is better than critics make it out to be but nowhere near as good it should have been.

Notable Moment: The opening sequence of course. Even if you hate this movie you have to admit that this scene is memorable in the best of ways.

Final Rating: 6/10

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