Refreshments became the highpoint of entertainment during “Ghost Ship.” This waterlogged film crams as much “Titanic” and “Event Horizon” as it can into one berth, then capsizes and sinks faster than one can say “artificial, butter-flavored grease.”
But popcorn isn’t the entertaining part. See, there’s a newly established rule when Artsweek goes to the movies: One may only have sips of the large Coke purchased pre-show after referring to it as either the “super-massive beverage” or the “Ÿber-grande soda.”
Angela, Steven and Jessica all sit nestled around yet another oversized container, this time holding too-salty popcorn, in hopes that this seemingly trite “ghost story” will justify a perfectly good actress like Julianna Margulies leaving a fat “ER” paycheck behind.
Director Steven Beck (“Thir13en Ghosts”) unfairly snatches proven horror clichŽs and warps them into a rusty ship setting, neglecting to ever create even a foggy semblance of a plotline. Instead, Artsweek expects that if you climb aboard “Ghost Ship,” you’ll be begging for the life raft after the only cool horror sequence of the movie concludes in the first 10 minutes.
Nutshelled, the story centers around an ill-fated, Italian sea vessel – the Antonia Graza – that becomes overrun with bloody bodies, demonic soul-snatchers and unattainable gold booty (not that kind, perv). Enter the obligatorily mixed-race Alaskan salvage crew, who must face various levels of peril with only really, really small flashlights to guide them as they try to haul the big boat back to shore. Meanwhile, the movie (whose tagline is “Sea Evil”) also stuffs enough nautical-slash-sexual, boat-as-female references to last Artsweek for months.
Like most crappy horror movies, half the fun begins in targeting those destined to become roadkill before the person seated next to you does. And, of course, nailing the killer.
While en route to discovering the abandoned ship, Minority #1, a.k.a. Santos (Alex Dimitriades), is shown manning the tugboat’s steering wheel while headbanging to thrash.
Jessica: Anyone that listens to that kind of music is going to die soon, I promise.
Angela: My god, he’s got a Rambo headband on, too. He’s so fated for death.
Another eerie death sign can be read when Captain Sean Murphy (Gabriel Byrne) comes to check just “what could be the matter” on deck.
Jessica: And he’s got a neckerchief.
Steven: It’s called an ascot.
Those of the nautical persuasion had been searching for the honkin’ Graza – abandoned without even a distress signal – for almost 40 years, unsuccessfully. A Canadian Air Force pilot proposes the idea of salvaging her to the rough-and-ready crew, setting into motion a string of “The Shining”-esque moments, including bleeding walls and even a creepy little British girl appearing out of thin air.
Steven: My guess is that the little girl remained alive on the boat, lived off the carcasses of all the dead people and she’s now some hideously strange Ÿber-ghost monster.
Okay, we may be a tad bit off in terms of plot guesses, but that still doesn’t justify having to swallow garbage lines like, “Whoa, she’s got some nice titties.”
Jessica: Seriously, who over the age of 15 still calls them titties?
Even still, the foulmouthed crew pays no heed to good, lifesaving advice, especially when it comes out of the mouth of Minority #2, First Mate Greer.
Steven: You always do what the obligatory black character tells you what to do.
Jessica: Especially when he’s the only one wearing glasses.
One would expect a film produced by Robert Zemeckis (director of “Forrest Gump”) to at least make some attempt at honest-to-goodness (honest-to-evilness?) scariness, but instead “Ghost Ship” becomes the product of stuffing a directional compass deep into a directorial ass.
Steven: Note that the only two scary things in this movie are water and a little girl.
“Ghost Ship” may have a dinghy full of truly spine-tingling moments, but we’d rather engage in beverage banter than the creepy boat fetishism and cheeseball racial stereotypes overflowing from this theater adventure.