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Post-Titanic, seeing rich people die on a boat turned into a sub-genre. Deep Rising came first, then Ghost Ship and its brilliantly vicious opening scene. A snapped cable turns into a knife, slicing through affluent Italians in an absolute gore spectacle. Then, a dreary, routine studio-produced haunted house story.

Of course it’s about gold. Boat salvagers see a multi-million dollar haul, turn greedy, and the body count begins to rise. On board, the sea scavengers face hauntings, but ones representing their fears. Isaiah Washington worries about losing his wife to lustful desires; Julianna Marguiles sees the child she never had; Captain Gabriel Byrne fears losing his ship and questions his leadership. Clever use of character, if lacking impact.

Whatever grand ideas Ghost Ship purports to add, soon they dissolve into standard horror tactics

There’s a slight Christian vibe in the story. Souls trapped on board sport a sinner’s mark; it’s assumed their selfishness doomed them to this purgatory, under control by another rogue spirit looking to suck in more souls. The only purity left is a child, caught up this mess, alone for eternity. Gold is a Biblical temptation.

Neat, if soon descending into familiar scare tactics, a few explosions, and gunfire. The salvagers split up, slowly (very slowly) scouring their find, debating what to do, and eventually turning on one another. Whatever grand ideas Ghost Ship purports to add, soon they dissolve into standard horror tactics, a few commendable kills more notable than any story elements.

It’s creepy and well designed. Shadows lurk everywhere, and persistent avarice frames Ghost Ship. Everyone is, ultimately, out for themselves, except for the hero. They make it out alive, because their sense of right breaks from the sinners.

There’s a sequel set-up in the final moments, before the undeniably early ‘00s soundtrack spins up. That next chapter never happened, but at least, unlike a lot of western action/horror movies, the situation isn’t solved by C4 and gunfire. Both failed in stopping this curse, and according to the last look through an ambulance door, as long as people seek an easy way out, evil will call to them. No sequel really needed then. Ghost Ship spells out its morals clearly, no follow-up necessary.

Video

Scream/Shout Factory licenses Ghost Ship from Warner, using the master on hand. It’s older and lacking, but not awful. Slight ringing pops up on some high contrast elements, although luckily, this isn’t a high contrast movie.

Grain stands out, emboldened by a lesser, lower resolution. The encoding does great work though, introducing no major problems and maintaining a natural film aesthetic. That doesn’t create substantial definition or detail. Close-ups do present excellent texture, and set design is given its due. Excuse the early ‘00s composites and CG, of course.

Dense black levels matter a lot to this film. Scream’s disc ensures accurate shadow reproduction, naturally deep, and avoiding crush. Reserved color brings out rusty hues and occasional primaries. Blood certainly makes itself noticeable. Although of the early color grading period, there’s little applied to this presentation, as far as these eyes can tell.

Audio

Expertly delivering ship interiors, rain and water become a constant presence inside. Metal creeks in each speaker. Some ghostly sounds split the rears, making full use of discrete effects. Thunder spreads out from the fronts, echoing into the rears.

Range doesn’t stretch too far. Some LFE support as things go up in flames generate rumble, mildly, if enough to feel a small shake. Limited audio spectacle, but sufficient DTS-HD work.

Extras

When it comes time to revisit discs like this, they’ll be remembered for their COVID touches. New interviews with Isaiah Washington, make-up artist Jason Baird, and producer Gil Adler all happen over Skype, running about six minutes each. Also new is a commentary from director Steve Beck.

Bonuses from previous Ghost Ship releases follow, including brief but great looks at digital and practical effects, plus set design. Raw footage from the shoot is interspersed with interviews. Added lore, some trailers, and music video complete this disc.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Ghost Ship
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
2

Movie

Although using a few interesting story angles, Ghost Ship succumbs to a generic formula after an incredibly brutal and memorable opening.

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