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Ghost Ship (18)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: One

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Behind the scenes documentary (15 mins); 'Secrets of the Antonia Graza' – tour of the Ship (15 mins); Visual effects featurette (6 mins); 'A Closer Look at the Gore' – prosthetics featurette (6 mins); 'Designing the Ghost Ship' – production design featurette (6 mins); 'Not Falling' - music video.

HAVING tested our patience (rather than our nerves) with last year’s 13 Ghosts, director Steve Beck returns to the horror genre for Ghost Ship, a haunted house chiller set on board a boat, that is only marginally better than his previous effort.

Gabriel Byrne and former ER star, Julianna Margulies, star as part of a salvage crew who ‘stumble’ upon a ‘lost’ ocean liner, the Antonia Graza, only to discover that it is haunted.

The luxury liner, a modern-day Mary Celeste, disappeared mysteriously in 1962 and has only now re-appeared, complete with its haul of gold bullion that may or may not have played a part in the grisly demise of its passengers.

With so much at stake, therefore, it isn’t long before the salvage crew begins turning on each other, oblivious to the evil surrounding them - so that when they eventually become trapped, it is only a matter of time before the ship starts claiming their lives.

Beck’s film starts in blood-soaked fashion, with a graphic depiction of the events which led to the Antonia Graza’s disappearance, but then sails into troubled waters by hitting viewers with wave upon wave of cliché.

Its shocks are far too easily sign-posted, while most of the proceedings are devoid of any tension - which is no mean feat, given the claustrophobic confines of the ship itself.

Mark Hanlon and John Pogue's script offers very little for the cast - which includes Ron Eldard and Isaiah Washington - to sink their teeth into, while the characterisation is so flimsy, that viewers are unlikely to care about what happens to any of them.

The presence of a ghostly little girl, who frequently appears to Margulies to warn her of impending danger, is also under-played, and seems little more than an excuse for the director to replay the events of the opening scene halfway through the movie.

But given that so few of the set pieces are worth remembering, it is little wonder that Beck would want to adopt such a policy of repetition because, by opting to show what happened from the start, the director has removed any of the film’s mystery.

It is therefore left to the established likes of Byrne and Margulies to salvage this wreck, but they are given so little to work with that it often feels they are merely re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.

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