Movie review

Ghost Ship
Gabriel Byrne, Julianna Margulies,
Ron Eldard, Desmond Harrington

Director : Steve Beck

Ghost ShipIf you're a subscriber to popular opinion about Robert Zemeckis and Joel Silver's ongoing William Castle remakes, then you won't be expecting much from Ghost Ship. I on the other hand loved both House On Haunted Hill and Thirteen Ghosts, so my expectations were way higher. House On Haunted Hill was the first horror movie to freak me out since Tom Savini slasher The Burning, way back in 1981. Like I said, high expectations.

Ghost Ship is very much a traditional haunted house movie: Cast get tricked into entering a haunted house. Cast get picked off one-by-one in increasingly inventive and gory fashion. One survivor (usually) makes it out alive. It's a standard formula, and it's been used hundreds of times. With a little twist you can come up with films like Alien, Event Horizon and The Thing too - essentially little more than haunted house or slasher flicks, but no less effective for it.
    Ghost Ship's twist is that it's set on a derelict cruise liner, and the cast of unwitting victims are Gabriel Byrne's salvage crew (think the marines of Aliens or Armageddon's astronauts). Not only is the plot traditional, but Ghost Ship manages to plunder the genre for a whole raft (no pun intended) of clichés: Characters promise to come home soon before dying grisly deaths; foods turns into writhing maggots as it's eaten; just as they try to leave, their one escape route is destroyed . . . it's a long list. The good points? Uh, nice effects. Oh yeah, and sets.

Ghost Ship is predictable, silly and not even slightly scary. For all its faults though, it is actually very entertaining. I left the theatre both apologising for it, and saying how much I'd enjoyed it. An odd combination. If you want high art there are better choices, but if you want an evening's entertainment where you can leave your brain at home, Ghost Ship gets the thumbs up.

:: Rowan Shaeffer

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