October 25, 2002
Ghost Ship is a horror film based upon the premise that a salvage crew has stumbled across a cruise ship. This very vessel was reported to be lost at sea half a century before. As they try to tow it back for further investigation, the usual twists and turns of the genre unfold and I assume less important crew members meet violent ends along the way.
The crew in question is comprised of Gabriel Byrne, who I assume will live longer than the rest of the crew, along with retired ER nurse Julianne Margulies as the main character. The winsome yet fierce thespian was the headliner in TNT's ambitious Mists of Avalon mini-series and is now ready to attempt to frontline a movie after her previous misstep with Newton Boys. Amusingly, her love interest in the film will be played by Ron Eldard, who previously had the same role for a period of time as Shep on ER. He is coming off of a wonderful performance as the pilot of a downed helicopter in Black Hawk Down. Oddly, his profile currently might be higher than that of his previously more well-known co-star based on this success.
The other actor of note is Isaiah Washington, whom you may know from the marvelous made-for-Showtime series Soul Food or, more likely, as Mac from Romeo Must Die. Mr. Washington appears to have a strong 2002 campaign ahead with a role in George Clooney's Welcome to Collinwood also on his upcoming slate. One name you might not know yet but will know 18 months from now is that of Karl Urban. In addition to his performance here as a random crew member likely to be brutally slain, he will also be seen portraying Eomer in the second and third titles of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
As with most horror films, the cast is secondary to the story but it's still a group of recognizable faces who have demonstrated successes on the small and big screen. It also bears noting that the director of this title is Steve Beck, the man who also helmed Thirteen Ghosts. His hiring here clearly demonstrates that the studio wants plenty more of the same from the prior production.
Before you shrug the concept of Ghost Ship off as generic (a point I'll gladly grant you), consider this. Ghost Ship is the third release from Dark Castle studios, a company founded under the tenet that the films of legendary showman William Castle be modernized in re-makes. With this release, they are branching out to update a film from 1952, which in no way involved Castle as writer, director or producer. It's a bold attempt by the studio to show that they aren't pigeonholed into a few select ideas but instead have the desire to make the best possible horror films using great ideas from the history of cinema. Even though this won't be a Castle re-make, his daughter, the head of Dark Castle Studios, has learned her father's most successful philosophy about the horror genre. If you may only have one of the two qualities, always pick style over substance.
This very theorem has led to the successful launches of The House on Haunted Hill and Thirteen Ghosts. The two films comprise twenty percent of the ten best October openings ever. In short, the studio has demonstrated a remarkable talent for taking a proven idea, updating it into a modern scenario, and marketing it effectively as a viable option for the week of Halloween. Since the first law of Hollywood is to never fix something that isn't broken (but instead to run it into the ground, pick it back up and run back into the ground several more times), Dark Castle will be releasing Ghost Ship the weekend prior to Halloween just as it did with The House on Haunted Hill in 1999 and Thirteen Ghosts in 2001. We may reasonably expect similar performance from Ghost Ship. (David Mumpower/BOP)
October 20, 2002
Featuring a terrific ad campaign and slick, stylish trailers, Ghost Ship is poised to repeat Dark Castle's success from Halloween weekends past. The stakes are a bit higher for Ghost Ship than they were for House on Haunted Hill or Thir13en Ghosts; Ghost Ship boasts a heightened budget of $35 million, while the previous films were made a bit more economically at around $20 million each. Therefore, it is important that Warner Bros. strive for a particularly strong opening weekend, as movies from this genre have a definite tendency to be front-loaded at the box office. They're doing as well as could be hoped in this area; now it's just a matter of seeing if the premise and stylish design appeal to the potential target audience. (Kim Hollis/BOP)
Comparison films for Ghost Ship
|Blair Witch Project, The
|House on Haunted Hill, The
|Ninth Gate, The
|John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars