Reviewed by: Greg Mueller
Ghost Ship is like if on Christmas, you open the big box from your parents first (knowing it's the one thing you really wanted) and then everything else is from that aunt that only ever buys you socks and underwear. Ghost Ship comes rushing out of the gate and blows its wad within the first fifteen minutes and spends the next seventy-five hoping you can coast off that high. The idea of Ghost Ship is great, a group of salvagers get a lead on a large boat in the middle of the ocean and end up with a lot more than they bargained for. The cast is great and they do the best they can with the stilted and corny dialog they are given. I've never seen Julianna Margulies ever give anything less than her best and she's easily the marquee actor here. The sets are great and even though the layout of the ship makes no sense and rooms seem to change location, everything looks realistic and sufficiently unsettling. There are a few cool kills (the best is the aforementioned scene in the first fifteen minutes) also, but that's really all that works well with Ghost Ship. Though they start off well, the plot really slows down and we spend far too much time on nautical terms and not enough with the much more exciting element of exploring and escaping; far to much ship and not enough ghost. I recognize that every movie sets its own rules for how ghosts work, but they look far too real for me; they don't do any effects to make them even slightly transparent or any ghost like appearances. In my opinion, at least at some point there should be a clear distinction between ghosts and the living. Although, based on the CGI and effects they so use, I don't have any faith that they could have pulled it off. No one is going to argue that 2002 was the height of CG, but everything looks bad. The camera angles and cinematography are fine, but any time they use an effect, it looks awful and they definitely pulled me out of the movie. The soundtrack was a weird choice too. After the horror elements come in, we still get a scene with a whimsical pirate adventure song and most of the big horror scenes get a random metal song. I appreciate the departure from the cliched "scary violin song" we get in 80% of horror movies now, but the metal soundtrack wasn't suited for a horror film. If the story was decent, I could overlook these, but Ghost Ship screws that up too. The pacing is off, the characters do stupid things because the plot needs them to and the final act is stupid and rushed and doesn't really make sense. This is Steve Beck's second outing as director, his only other film being the 13 Ghosts remake. 13 Ghosts wasn't great, but to me it seemed like it never really took itself to seriously. Ghost Ship takes itself way too seriously, especially every time a ghost is on screen. Ghost Ship isn't willing to have fun because the ship ghosts are serious business, which means the audience don't get to have any fun either.