Ghost Ship

2002, Movie, R, 88 mins

Review

GHOST SHIP
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A salvage crew boards an abandoned luxury liner and gradually learns that they have more to fear than rusted-out decks. May 21, 1962, somewhere off the coast of Labrador. A siren in a red dress (Francesca Rettondini) croons while glamorous couples sip champagne and dance beneath the stars aboard the super-deluxe Italian liner Antonia Graza. A little girl (Emily Browning) is taken for a whirl around the dance floor by the gallant captain (Robert Ruggiero), and everything is magical until an unseen someone cuts loose a tensile cable that slices across the floor like a cheese cutter, reducing the elegant throng to a pile of bloody, wriggling body parts. Flash forward to the present. Professional sea-salvage professionals Murphy (Gabriel Byrne) and Epps (Julianna Margulies), who've just brought their seawater-weary crew to shore, are lifting their glasses to dry land when a stranger sidles over with a proposition. Weather pilot Dodge (Ron Eldard) has seen a ship in the Bering Strait: It looks big and old and derelict, but he has no way to claim it. Would they be interested in a deal? Obligatory qualms dispensed with, the weary scavengers climb back aboard their ailing tug, the Arctic Warrior, and strike out in search of the ghost ship. They're barely aboard the deserted Antonia Graza when the spooky stuff starts: hard-headed Epps sees a little girl in a white party dress amid the rubble of the ship's stateroom, others hear the echo of a woman singing. And bad vibe aside, the ship's taking on water through a recent tear in the hull and the rudder is rusted in place, allowing ocean currents to pull it towards a nearby cluster of rocks. The scavengers discover a stack of boxes filled with gold bars, which suggest a pleasing alternative to towing the ailing hulk: Offload the gold, forget the ship and get the hell out. But an explosion destroys the tug and strands the survivors aboard the Antonia Graza, where the weird manifestations keep on coming, from maggots and a swimming pool filled with blood to the sultry lady in red, slinking around the stateroom shadows. Effects-trained director Steve Beck, who debuted with THIR13EN GHOSTS (2001), piles on the CGI wizardry. But the movie is simultaneously soft and icky; the gross-out effects are grafted onto a sub-Tales from the Crypt ghost story that never scares up any serious chills. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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