“Ghost Ship” (2002)

The film “Ghost Ship” begins in 1962, aboard the luxurious, Italian ocean liner, the Antonia Graza. The passengers are all dressed in formal evening wear, and are attending the ‘Captain’s Ball,’ which was a traditional dance held at the end of transatlantic voyages. The passengers are dancing to the song being sung by the melodious voice of Francesca (Francesca Rettondini). The only person, who seems not to be enjoying herself is a young girl named Katie Harwood (Emily Browning). Within minutes, Katie will be the only person left alive.    

 From there, the scene shifts to modern day. The salvage ship, the Arctic Warrior, is attempting to save an abandoned vessel before it sinks. If they can do so, according to maritime law, there will be profit for the crew. Murphy, the veteran seafaring captain of the salvage vessel, is portrayed by Golden Globe winner Gabriel Byrne (In Treatment). In his crew is the take charge Epps, played by three time Emmy winner Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife). She is more like a daughter to Murphy than a crew member. Additional members of the crew include two jokers: Dodge, a role acted by Ron Eldard (ER); and Munder, played by Karl Urban (The Boys). They like to have fun, but when it comes to their work they are very competent at their jobs. In the role of the ship’s navigator Greer, is Isaiah Washington (Grey’s Anatomy). His impending nuptials are foremost on his mind. Lastly, there is Santos (Alex Dimitriades). He is the crew’s engineer, who can seemingly fix anything. Santos pines over a classic car, the picture of which, he keeps near him while he works. (As an aside: Gabriel Byrne replaced Emmy, Golden Globe, and two time BAFTA winner Brian Cox (Succession), who decided at the time to instead work on the film “The Ring” (2002).    

After the successful salvage of the ship, thanks in large part to Epps, who refused to abandon the mission, even with Murphy directing her to do so, the crew is celebrating at a bar. While receiving their money, and drinking, they are figuring out what they’re going to do next. Murphy is approached by a pilot named Ferriman played by Desmond Harrington (Dexter). He informs the captain, that on one of his recent flights, he discovered a large ship adrift in the Bering Sea. He authenticates his claim with a picture of the vessel. Murphy is intrigued, but he won’t take the job unless the crew agrees. Even though they have all been out to sea for a good deal of time, with the monetary payout potentially being in the millions, the crew agrees to take the job. Ferriman is insistent on a share of the profits, as well as being able to accompany the crew out to sea. Murphy negotiates the price with Ferriman, but initially refuses to take him on the job. Ferriman issues an ultimatum, either he comes with the crew, or he takes his proposition to someone else.  Murphy knows that without Ferriman, the chances of finding the ship, are almost non-existent. He also is aware that plenty of other crews would be willing to not only give Ferriman the percentage of the take he’s asking for, but also to bring him along. Murphy agrees to Ferriman’s request to accompany the crew,  and they set sail the next day.

When the crew reaches the Antonia Graza, they surmise that there is a great deal of work that needs to be done, if they are going to successfully tow the ship. The task is one they’re all willing to undertake considering the millions of dollars that are at stake. From the moment they board the ship, they seemingly begin to have trouble. For starters, even though the vessel has supposedly been abandoned, drifting at sea for decades, they might not be alone. Furthermore, based upon the finding of a digital watch, they seem to not even have been the first people to come across the ship. When the crew discovers crates of gold bars, valued in the millions, they decide to forgo towing the ocean liner, and opt to leave with the gold, however, they will soon discover, that will not be so easy. 

“Ghost Ship” was directed by Steven Beck (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade). The screenplay was written by John Pogue (The Quiet Ones), and Mark Hanlon (Buddy Boy), based on a story written by Hanlon. The film premiered on October 22, 2002 in Westwood, California. The horror movie has a runtime of 91 minutes. The music composed by John Frizzell (Office Space) invokes a good sense of dread. Emmy nominee Gale Tattersall’s (From the Earth to the Moon), cinematography does an excellent job of capturing the tension and suspense throughout the film. (As an aside: The movie was originally offered to Renny Harlin (The Long Kiss Goodnight) to direct).      

I didn’t see “Ghost Ship” when it was originally in theaters. As a matter of fact, until a few nights ago, I had never seen the film at all; it was one of those movies that I never got around to watching, which I was surprised at considering its cast, and the good reviews I’ve heard about it over the years. From its opening scene, until the credits, the film held my interest. The cast was uniformly excellent. The plot of the film was well thought out, and in the end, everything that leads up to it, makes sense. While it is categorized as horror, and there are certainly scenes that contain graphic horror, most notably the opening, I think that film fans, who don’t typically watch movies in the genre can invest their time, and get caught up in the suspense of the film.                              

About robbinsrealm

I was born in Smithtown, New York, and grew up, worked, and lived in various areas of Long Island before moving to Boca Raton, Florida where I now make my home. In addition to being an aspiring writer, I am also an English teacher. I have a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master’s Degree in Education, both from Adelphi University in Garden City, New York. In my spare time you will find me engrossed in books, watching movies, socializing with friends, or just staying active.
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4 Responses to “Ghost Ship” (2002)

  1. cindy knoke says:

    I will watch this. Thanks for the review.

  2. Angelilie says:

    I many like your beautiful blog. A pleasure to come stroll on your pages. A great discovery and a very interesting blog. I will come back to visit you. Do not hesitate to visit my universe. A soon.

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