Wednesday, July 14, 2010

#23 - Ghost Ship - 2002

Ghost ship was my 2nd selection for horror week and as my wife suggested, it wasn't really a horror flick as much as a mystery/thriller but still under Netflix and Blockbuster's website you would find this film under horror. Come to think of it neither of these first 2 films this week would be your typical horror films yet that is the genre they are most commonly linked with. Below is my detailed review.

Ghost Ship had a pretty good cast of characters with some notable actors in it. It had Gabriel Byrne, Julianna Marguilies, Isiah Washington, Ron Eldard, and a few others and the cast was pretty diverse and meshed well together for this film. The young girl in this movie named Katie is played by Emily Browning and all through the movie I couldn't figure out what else I saw her in. After checking into it more she was one of the daughters in the movie "The Uninvited". This must have been one of her earlier film roles.

This movie starts out with big band type music something you would think to hear on a Love Boat episode and it shows people on a cruise ship dancing, and having a good time in their formal wear. There is no indication in the first few minutes of this film that this is anything less than a carefree feel good movie but that all changes pretty rapidly. The focus is on a young girl, Katie who is out on the deck bored sitting by herself. Others including the captain and his team are receiving champagne, dancing, and having a good time but not Katie. She is asked to dance by someone and soon after you see some cable lines on the ship start to come apart out near the outdoor dance floor. In easily one of the most shocking openings to a horror film I've ever seen we see the cable come apart and swipe across the dance floor in one fast swoosh. In a wonderfully edited scene with crisp clear visuals of roses being cut in half and a cable line slicing through people on the dance floor we see a quick glimpse of everyone on the floor looking to be as if they are ok but just stunned and it is dead silent.

Seconds later clips of people's clothes and limbs are shown falling to the ground and people's bodies simply falling off as they were cut in half by the cable. After a visual of almost all of the guests are shown on the ground in a blood filled scene the little girl Katie looks up at the man she was dancing with and see's half of his face started to fall off his head as she screams out loud. Katie was unharmed due to her size as the cable avoiding killing her because she was so small. This first "kill" scene was amazing and would easily be on my list of top 10 graphic kill or death scenes in horror movies. A great start to the film.

Next we see a salvaging crew out on the water lead by Captain Sean Murphy. They eventually settle into a bar and while having drinks and being happy to be on land they are approached by a young man named Jack. Jack has a folder with pictures of a mysterious vessel he saw outside the coast of Alaska in a remote part of the Bering Sea. He asks the salvagers if they would want to salvage the ship and asks for 20%. After a brief conversation with his crew Captain Sean agrees but says he will only give Jack 10% which Jack agrees to under one condition, he goes with them to salvage it. After the agreed deal the crew along with Jack head out to the location it is said to be at. At this point of the film we see Santos steering the boat while rocking out to a very catchy rock anthem. It is Mudvayne's "Not Falling" and after seeing this film I actually downloaded this song I liked it so much. Awesome pump up rock anthem. As the boat nears something in the water Santos calls Captain Sean up and as they are checking out the satellite screen they almost run right into the gigantic ship. Turns out that the ship was actually an Italian luxury cruise ship named the Antonia Graza and it went missing in 1962.

This team obviously knows they have found quite a ship here and after getting everyone aboard they start to investigate it. During their initial search the find an old clock still tic tocking which rings quite loudly at one point and startles the crew. As they move further into the ship Munder falls through the floor and almost falls down to the ballroom area and while helping him back up Maureen spots what looks to be a child on the staircase below. It is actually the little girl Katie. After further investigation of the boat they realize it has a large hole that needs to be fixed in order for them to salvage it and bring it to shore. After the team agrees to proceed with this mission they start to encounter even more odd and strange things going on in the ship. Maureen enters a room with an indoor pool and it is riddled with shell casings and bullet holes in the tile walls. After she goes into the empty pool to investigate further she starts to climb back up the pool ladder and see's Katie once again. She flings backwards and falls down into the empty pool. After she finally gets up and starts to exit the pool room you see blood pouring out of the bullet holes in the pool and it fills up with water. By the time she finally exits a shot of the blood filled pool and dead bodies floating under water emerges. This part was very visually stunning and the special effects in this scene were cool. Overall very creepy which is great.

After Maureen meets up with Jack they enter into another room and while trying to open a hatch water bursts in and brings with it several dead bodies. As they continue to move along they enter into a room with an old classic jaguar which Jack is very excited about but it is what is beyond the car in the next room that is exciting. They find money and crates. After initially opening up the first crate and finding rats they leave to go get the crew and return to find that what they actually found is crates filled with gold. After a celebration the group sips alcohol that they found onboard and the come to an agreement that they will just take the gold and pass on salvaging the ship. In a pretty gross scene Dodge and Munder are eating canned baked beans when out of Dodge's mouth slivers a maggot. Come to find out both guys had a mouth full a maggots and didn't even realize it. Whew, yummy huh?

As the team prepares to start to load the gold on the boar Santos gets ready for their departure but the boat explodes in dramatic fashion killing Santos and leaving other members injured, including Greer who was also onboard at the time. After they all get back on the Antonio Graza things start to really get weird. Captain Sean has what he thinks is a hallucination, or so he believes as he is talking with the original captain of the Antonio Graza. After sharing some information he indicates that there was one person who was never found and shows Captain Sean a picture of who that person is. Captain Sean's expression indicates sheer panic and we would later see why. Greer is roaming around near the ballroom area and is drunk but he too starts to see visions. He finds himself in the middle of the ballroom with a crowd applauding him and a beautiful singer in a tight red dress behind him. She seduces him to the point where he follows her all the way to a hole in the ship where he falls to his death. Meanwhile Maureen meets Katie and she explains what is going on by showing Maureen what really happened. This was my favorite part of the film. In graphic description and visuals Katie shows Maureen that the cruise liner was taken over by criminals who poisoned the guests, shot and killed guests in the pool area, and stole the gold and fortune. One scene shows the beautiful singer coming into the room with the old jaguar in it and there is a guy behind her. He murders he by having a large hook go into her neck and as the guy turns around it is actually Jack. After freaking out Maureen asks what happened to Katie as the clips showed her being taken into a room on the ship. After the door shuts Maureen looks back and see's an old decomposed body of what was Katie hanging in the middle of the room.

As Maureen searches for her crew she see's Captain Sean in a water tank holding a picture of Jack. That is the picture that the ghost Captain gave him. Captain Sean is already dead and Maureen tries to alert the rest of the crew who is alive what's going on. As she meets with Dodge she starts to tell him but Jack enters. She tells Dodge to stay with Jack as she leaves. Meanwhile while trying to fix the hole in the ship Munder gets crushed to death in one of the operating machines down below. Maureen finds him and as she goes back to get Dodge she notices he is acting weird. Jack had transformed himself into Dodge. In the final battle scene Maureen manages to blow up the Antonio Graza and therefore releasing the souls from it. The film ends with her being taken onto an ambulance but as the song "Not Falling" starts playing in the background we see a crew boarding a new ship carrying on board the crates of gold and at the back of the crew is Jack. Very cool ending.

Overall I really enjoyed this movie. Although at first glance I can see how some would be skeptical to categorize this as a horror film however due to a few scenes in the film, most notably the first death scene with the cable, it is understandable that this would fit into this week's category. I felt the acting was good but the shock value of certain scenes along with the music and score for this film really made it awesome. The story itself was great and it had a very good twist at the end and although I would never usually want a movie to be longer than it is but I feel this one could have been about 15 minutes longer and it would have only improved it more. Some of the scenes at the end of the film felt rushed and although I still loved this movie I feel it could have been a bit better. Overall I though it was better than I expected when seeing it originally and that first death scene at the beginning mixed with the music, the recap of events from Katie, and the twist at the end made this a really good film. I would give this a strong B!

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