Ghost Ship (2002)

Ghost Ship is a shockingly bad movie. A bumbling insane plot coupled with a sweaty mass of bad acting turn this semblance of an idea into a laughably bad horror film that is bafflingly watchable despite being so utterly and completely rubbish.

Captain Sean Murphy (Gabriel Byrne) runs a sea salvage operation with a solid team of risk-takers and jokers. On returning with a massive haul and ready for a well-earned break, they are approached by Jack Ferriman (Desmond Harrington), a small-plane pilot who’s spotted a massive derelict ship just off the Bering Strait. The team set off immediately to locate the vessel only to find it is the Antonia Graza, an ostentatious ocean liner presumed sunk in 1962. Appearing out of nowhere 40 years after its disappearance, Murphy’s crew instantly realise they’ve discovered their retirement package and set about clambering onboard.

Old, spooky and dangerously rusty, the Antonia Graza seems to be just another derelict ship, but something is distinctly wrong with the hulking mass of metal and history. Second mate Epps (Julianna Margulies) sees a small girl, finds bullet holes in the swimming pool wall and finds a Casio watch on the bridge, despite the ship going missing before electronic watches even existed. They quickly learn that the ghostly passengers still onboard the doomed luxury liner have their own deadly agenda. With the help of a long-dead girl (Emily Browning), the salvage crew have to fight to survive the soul-collecting vessel as it takes them on a ride to hell… or some such nonsense.

After a fantastic opening flash-back to 1962 where the ship’s dance meets an unfortunate end, it’s all downhill from there as the clichés roll and the plot floats around like an out of control speedboat.

Using cinema’s age old enemy, the Nazis, as a marginally interesting addition to a ridiculous back story, we find the true history of the Antonia Graza is laced with conspiracy and deceit. It is a tale told in a quick-fire flashback sequence that is both utterly extreme and hugely entertaining.

Somehow a 14 year old Emily Browning manages to outshine the majority of the cast members, who attempt to find humour and character in a stereotype-laced script but fail miserably. Despite the idiotic scripting, there are some excellent moments and some fantastically bloody set-pieces that are hilarious and guiltily enjoyable. The majority of the film, however, is so laden with plot holes it should’ve sunk during the scripting process.

Ghost Ship is the last film Steve Beck and Mark Hanlon have done in seven years, which probably says a lot about the critical response it received. It is an atrocious movie, but compared to a lot of the tat that is churned out on a regular basis nowadays, it is oddly and frequently enjoyable.

Bloody, stupid, poorly acted and laughably bad, Ghost Ship at least entertains despite clearly being a floating bag of cack. Watch it drunk and you’ll have a ball, watch it sober and you’ll drown in its ineptitude.

Rating: ★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

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