20th Anniversary of Ghost Ship
Ghost Ship was released on the 25th of October 2002. Two-time director Steve Beck returned for his second and last movie following Thirteen Ghosts. Steve has previous experience in visual effects teams for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Abyss and The Hunt for Red October. The screenplay comes from John Pogue who previously was involved in U.S. Marshals, The Skulls and Rollerball. John went on to write and direct Quarantine 2: Terminal and The Quiet Ones. Along with just directing Blood Brother and Eraser: Reborn. The second writer Mark Hanlon was only ever involved in one other movie before or after Ghost Ship, which was Buddy Boy.
Ghost Ship follows a salvage crew of Murphy (Gabriel Byrne), Epps (Julianna Margulies), Dodge (Ron Eldard), Greer (Isaiah Washington), Santos (Alex Dimitriades) and Munder (Karl Urban). The crew get approached by pilot Ferriman (Desmond Harrington). Who has discovered a long-lost cruise liner Antonia Graza floating in the middle of the ocean.
The crew together the salvage is underway, finding the Antonia Graza. They must fix the hole in the hull of the ship before taking it back. Once on board, Epps starts seeing a little girl Katie (Emily Browning), for us, it is the survivor from the opening sequence. The ship is abandoned and the secrets to what caused the sudden disappearance are going to become clear to everyone on board.
The original script wanted to play more into a psychological thriller about a crew losing their minds to greed. We ended up getting more of a ghost story, seeing the crew haunted by the ghosts of the ship, with each member having a different connection to a ghost. The ghosts guide them, with a mix of troublesome figures and ones that want to help them.
Ghost Ship was produced for $20 million by Village Roadshow Productions and Dark Castle Entertainment. Making $30 million in the USA, ranking it 87th for the film released in 2002. With a further $38 million from the international market, ranking it 52nd in 2002. This gives the movie a grand total of $68 Million worldwide, ranking it 67th for the year. Ghost Ship was the 4th highest-grossing horror movie for the year, behind Signs, The Ring and Resident Evil. The money Ghost Ship made was less than a million-dollar difference from director Steve Beck’s previous film Thirteen Ghosts.
Ghost Ship was a movie that didn’t please the critics, sitting on a score of 28 on Metacritic. Based on only 25 reviews, 8 are mixed, with 17 negative and not a single positive. Roger Ebert was one of the mixed responses with the quote ‘Is the film worth seeing? Depends. It breaks no new ground as horror movies go, but it does introduce an intriguing location, and it’s well-made technically. Better than you expect but not as good as you hope.’ While a more savage review from Los Angeles Times’ Manohla Dargis reads ‘See evil. See evil run. Run, evil, run all the way to cable television purgatory.’
Rotten Tomatoes gives an even more damning score of 15%, which is more to do with the only scores available being positive or negative. Sitting on the site with 128 reviews, only 19 are rated Fresh, while the remaining 109 are Rotten.
Ghost Ship is a movie that people still talk about today. This is mostly down to the exceptionally opening sequence, which is widely considered one of the very best in horror. The crew is all dancing at a ball, with the captain offering to dance with a little girl. It is such a peaceful scene, with nothing going wrong in it. As we start seeing a wire getting stretched, it snaps, cutting everyone on the dance floor in half. With the captain’s head split in two, the little girl is left standing in the pools of blood and body parts.
The horror community always remember an iconic moment, in 2002, Resident Evil has previously given us a slicing sequence, which at the time was shocking. Ghost Ship upped it to the next level. People still check out this movie just for that opening sequence and despite the rest of the movie not being as popular. The idea that we could get something that shocking, keeps the audience returning to the movie.
Julianna Margulies has gone on the record about disowning the movie. She claims the script was changed after she and the co-stars signed on to the movie. Margulies is quoted as ‘Suddenly, I was in a really awful horror movie, and it was shocking’ About the movie.
Gabriel Byrne is the captain of the crew, he replaced Brian Cox who ironically enough choose to do The Ring over this movie. There are also early roles for Emily Browning and The Boys’ megastar Karl Urban. Completing the cast are Dexter’s Desmond Harrington, Grey’s Anatomy’s Isaiah Washington, ER’s Ron Eldard and Alex Dimitriades. None of the other actors has spoken up for or against the movie since but have all gone on to have strong careers that this movie never affected.
2002 in Horror
2002 was an interesting year in horror, we got original movies like 28 Days Later, May, Cabin Fever, Dog Soldiers and Bubba Ho-Tep. It was also the year we got the start of horrors following in the footsteps of Ringu, with Ju-on The Grudge, Dark Water and The Eye. Ghost Ship fits in perfectly with the range of horror movies. We received offering something different.
Ghost Ship was left with a stinger, as Epps is back on land, heading to a hospital. She looks up and sees her crew loading the same boxes of gold, with Ferriman following them onto the new cruise liner that picked her up after the explosion. This scene leaves the idea for a potential sequel. One that could experience the bigger cycle of what Ferriman is up to and how he looks the claim the souls of the next group of victims.