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Film: Ghost Ship

There are two films with the same name, but they are markedly different. This page is about the 2002 film.

Plot synopsis:

In May 1962, hundreds of wealthy passengers enjoy dancing in the luxurious ballroom of an Italian ocean liner, the Antonia Graza, while a beautiful Italian woman (Francesca Rettondini) sings "Senza Fine." Away from the party, a hand presses a lever that unravels a thin wire cord from a spool. Suddenly, the spool snaps and the wire slices across the dance floor like a blade, bisecting the dancers. Only little Katie (Emily Browning) who is dancing with the Captain is spared, thanks to her small stature and to the captain leaning protectively over her. She looks up at the Captain's face, which splits open at mouth level as the top of his head falls off. Katie screams and the film cuts to the present day.

A salvage crew Captain Sean Murphy (Gabriel Byrne), Maureen Epps (Julianna Margulies), Greer (Isaiah Washington), Dodge (Ron Eldard), Munder (Karl Urban) and Santos (Alex Dimitriades) is celebrating a recent success at a bar, when Jack Ferriman (Desmond Harrington), a Canadian weather service pilot, approaches them and says he has spotted a mysterious vessel running adrift in the Bering Sea. Because the ship is in international waters, it can be claimed by whoever is able to bring it to a port. The crew soon set out on the Arctic Warrior, an ocean salvage tugboat. While exploring the abandoned ship, they discover that it is the Antonia Graza, an Italian luxury liner that disappeared in May 1962 and was believed to be lost at sea. When they board the ship and prepare to tow it to shore, strange things begin to happen. Epps claims to have seen a little girl on the stairwell. Greer claims to have heard the singing of an unseen songstress throughout the ship. Epps and Ferriman discover the corpses of another salvage crew. They decide to leave the ship but take the large quantity of gold that they find on board. Katie tries to warn the crew that the Arctic Warrior has been sabotaged, but the tug explodes as the engine is started, killing Santos and leaving the rest stranded on the ship in the Bering Sea.

And then things start to go from bad to worse.


This movie contains examples of:

  • Batman Gambit: Ferriman's plan hinges on people falling for their greed to complete his mission to collect souls. His plan goes awry when one of his would-be-victims chooses self-sacrifice to destroy the ship once and for all over the promise of getting rich off the gold.
  • Big Bad: Ferriman is responsible for all the previous deaths on the Graza, the murder of subsequent salvage crews, and is working for Hell to collect souls.
  • Bigger Bad: Ferriman implies he is working for Satan, or at least Hell. He says he needs to find enough souls to make "management" happy, and he needs the current salvage crew to fix the Graza for him to accomplish that mission.
  • Big "NO!": The movie ends with this being Epps' final word when she sees that the villain is alive and well, and starting his plan all over again.
  • The Chanteuse: Francesca is the typical sultry lounge singer, but on a luxury Italian cruiseship. She participates in the massacre on the ship and uses her wiles to seduce men to their deaths, and as a ghost is serving the primary villain to lure more men to their deaths.
  • Clean Cut: The opening sequence has a group of partygoers dancing in the ballroom of an ocean liner. An unseen person hooks up a spool of wire cord level with the ballroom deck. The spool snaps and flails across the room, and the guests look around to see what's wrong. It turns out that all of the guests (save for one little girl) have been bisected, falling apart more than ten seconds after the incident. Of note is the captain of the ship, who has been dancing with the little girl. He looks down at her in concern, then half of his head falls off.
  • The Corrupter: It's Ferriman's job to bring out the absolute worst in people, because if they commit enough sins they'll effectively damn their souls, which he can then harvest and take to Hell. He pressures a segment of the crew on the Graza into starting a complete orgy of violent murder of everyone else on board so they can get their hands on all the gold he brought with him. He tries the same routine on the present day salvage crews, but it's only Epps who takes a definite stand against his material offers at the end.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: The dance scene at the opening. That entire crowd all killed by one wire slicing through them all?! OUCH!!!
  • Decoy Protagonist: Captain Murphy, who dies without any impact on the story whatsoever whereas Epps has the more important role.
  • Diagonal Cut: Happens in the prologue. When the cables tear through the Antonia Grazia, dismembering everyone on-board, most cuts are horizontal as the victims are standing. The captain is dancing with a little girl and bends in an odd pose to protect her and, after a few seconds of delay to look around at the carnage, the girl watches the cut form across his head.
  • Downer Ending: Sure, Epps may have saved all the souls onboard the Graza and survived, but Ferriman still exists - and has her damned crew carry another load of unmarked gold bars onto the ship that rescued her before her eyes just before the credits roll. Here We Go Again.
  • Dwindling Party: In typical slasher fashion, the cast is killed off one by one.
  • Evil All Along: Ferriman poses as a meek weather service pilot to lure the crew of the Arctic Warrior to the Graza. He proves himself useful throughout the film and even seemingly saves Epps from an insane Murphy, but it's all an act. He's actually working for Hell and started the massacre on the Graza. It's implied he's done this many times over, with the fresh bodies in the laundry room being from a previous crew he led into the trap.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: In the end, the Big Bad tries to tempt the Final Girl into his trap by turning into the crew mate that he just killed. He attempts to use the crewman's love to trick her, but fails horribly because he believes the material items he offers will win her over. Shows up after his ruse is uncovered when he tries to trade her life for keeping the ship afloat and can't seem to understand that she doesn't care that she may die if she can destroy the ship and free all the trapped souls.
  • Final Girl: Epps lasts the longest of any good character, and is eventually the only survivor.
  • Foreshadowing: After the Arctic Warrior explodes with Santos on board, Dodge gets into a scuffle with Ferriman and accuses him of causing his mate's death because Ferriman got them there in the first place. He has no idea how right he is.
  • Ghost Ship: Yes, that is the name of the movie.
  • Glamour: The dead Francesca seduces Greer to kill him. After disposing of him, her form shifts back into the rotten corpse she has become.
  • God Job: The villain reveals he was given his job to collect souls because he lived a lifetime of sin.
  • Gold Fever: The gold bars are used by Ferriman to drive ship crews to murder people out of greed, thereby damning themselves to Hell.
  • Gratuitous Italian: Not surprising, since the film takes place (mostly) on an Italian cruise ship. However, much of the Italian you'll see or hear note  is just plain wrong... Google Translate, anyone?
  • Greed: Ferriman uses this sin to lead the people on the Antonia Graza to their demise. The crew of the Graza salvaged the gold from the Lorelei and took Ferriman onboard, and he then drove them insane with desire, causing them to murder the passengers first and then turn on each other. He uses the same prospect of gold and riches on the salvage crews he lures there, and even tries to tempt Epps at the end with other material trappings.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Every single person, except for the little girl, in the opening scene. The only reason she survives is because she's still short enough that the high-tension cable goes over her head instead of through her body as it cuts across the deck in a split-second.
  • Heaven: Where the ghosts of the ship finally supposedly go after Epps frees them from Ferriman.
  • Hell: Ferriman works for the establishment after a lifetime of sin. He's planning on sending the entire Graza there with every soul he captured.
  • Here We Go Again: Epps eventually succeeds in sinking the Graza, all the souls are released and Ferriman is destroyed, and she's rescued from the ocean by a passing ship. Then in the last scene she sees an unharmed Ferriman walk by, taking the gold onto another ship and starting the cycle anew.
  • Infant Immortality: Subverted and played with. Katie survives the razor wire murder scene, but only because she is too small. She is later murdered anyway by two insane crew members.
  • Kill 'em All: The movie prologue, the origins of the ghost ship.
  • Kill the Cutie: Katie met the same fate as everyone else.
  • Lady in Red: Francesca.
  • Logo Joke: They use the 1948-1967 Warner logo to tie in with its grisly 1962 prologue scene. Village Roadshow and Dark Castle Entertainment don't have period-appropriate logos though, so they had to settle for a sepia tone instead.
  • Manipulative Bastard: When Ferriman is exposed as his true self his mastery of personal manipulation becomes evident. His routine is to pretend to be a harmless guy leading greedy people to a lot of gold, then manipulating them into killing themselves one by one so their souls become corrupted and he can take them to Hell. After he's done he lures another crew there, rinse, repeat.
  • Meaningful Name: Ferriman, who is an infernal accountant collecting enough souls so he can ferry them to Hell and please his masters.
  • Opera Gloves: Francesca.
  • Only Sane Man: After Santos is killed and they're stranded on the Graza, Greer is the only one to really show concern that the ship might be haunted, and that they should forget the gold, forget salvaging the ship, and get off immediately. This makes his subsequent fall into deadly idiocy rather out of character.
  • Our Demons Are Different: Ferriman is a wicked former human who became a servant of Hell because of his sins. He collects souls for his infernal masters, calling himself a "salvager". He doesn't make deals, and instead tries to tempt people into committing crimes out of the sin of Greed to damn their own souls, which he can then take "home" when he fills his quotum. He can shapeshift, recover from gunshot wounds, and mark ghosts to become his servants in death.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: They're the trapped souls of dead people on a Ghost Ship. They're intangible and can project (false) visions to living people. They're not all malevolent, as their morality is largely informed by their personalities in life. Some actually try to help the living, while others try to kill them because they've been marked by one of Hell's accountants.
  • Peek-A-Boo Corpse: The heroine opens a closet door to find the hanged, desiccated corpse of Katie, the young ghost girl. Mind, Katie was revealing what had happened on the ship (mass murder in a variety of gruesome and cruel ways).
  • Punch Clock Villain: Zig-zagged with Ferriman who claims that he is merely killing the people since "It's his job" but then he mentions getting the job due to a lifetime of sin.
    I'm a salvager. Just like you. You collect ships, I collect souls. And when I fill my quota, I send a boatload home. This will make management happy. You see, it's a job. Given to me after a lifetime of sin. So if I lose this ship, management won't be happy
  • The Reveal: Two are revealed in succession in the vision that Katie shows Epps of the horrors that occurred on the ship. A small part of the crew murdered everyone else onboard to get the gold bars, and Ferriman instigated all of it; he hasn't aged a day since the 1960s, and lured Epps' crew to the Graza as well.
  • Razor Floss: A support wire is used for just the first part of the mass murder in the opening scene.
  • Seven Deadly Sins: A recurring theme. The villain explains he was given his job to collect souls for Hell because he lived a very sinful life, and he tries to trick people into committing sins to doom their souls.
    • Envy: It's made quite clear that the gold bars are stolen loot, but the salvagers don't care, just declaring "hey, we're in international waters, so finder's keepers!". The crew of the Graza are so hungry for it that they murder everyone else onboard to obtain it.
    • Gluttony: Dodge and Munder, two of the guys from the Artic Warrior, start mowing down on old cans of rice they find in the kitchens of the Graza. They're soon rewarded when they realize it's been infested with maggots.
    • Greed: What started the whole thing, to get the gold and live a rich life, going so far as to murder for it. The villain uses this as his main weapon against his victims.
    • Lust: Francesca uses her allure to drive men to murder for her, or unwittingly kill themselves trying to know her biblically.
    • Pride: The ghost crowd gets Greer to drop his guard by applauding him in the middle of the restored, pristine lounge room as if he were the man of the night. Murphy's acquaintance with a mutual ship captain also plays with this subtly.
    • Sloth: Dodge and Munder are constantly playing "rock, paper, scissors" to get the other guy to do the job at hand.
    • Wrath: The crew of the Graza indulge in this to insane degrees, turning the ship into a slaughterhouse by murdering the passengers and the rest of the crew en masse in sadistically cruel ways.
  • Sarcastic Confession:
    Epps: Have you told anyone else about this?
    Ferriman: Not a living soul.
  • Slashed Throat: Happens on screen to someone as Katie Harwood is being forcibly dragged back to her cabin she witnesses someone get his throat slit with a straight razor by one of the crazed crew members.
  • Spotting the Thread: Epps catches on that the villain has killed and impersonated her last remaining crewmate when he doesn't ask her what happened to the second-to-last one, who's been killed in the interim. He drops the act and admits he already knows because he killed the other one too.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: There's a flashback comprised of a montage of images of what occurred on the ocean liner. During this there's a scene in the kitchen where cooks are putting rat poison in food. We then see passengers eating the food and one person vomits as a result.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Greer knows he is on a ghost ship where some of his mates have already died. After downing his sorrows with a drink, he decides to shut off his brain and try to make out with the seductive female ghost. He falls straight through her intangible body into an elevator shaft.
  • The Vamp: Not only was Francesca involved in the mass murder, but she also seduced one of the crooks into killing his comrades before offing him herself. Unfortunately for her, her feminine wiles don't work on supernatural beings, but even after death she's still just as much a vamp as she was in life, tempting Greer and leading him to his doom. Inverted when Francesca's backstory reveals that said supernatural being actually seduced her into playing her role in the scheme.
    Benvenuto a bordo note 
  • Wham Shot: The close-up of the mysterious instigator of the Antonia Graza massacre after he kills Francesca, revealing the demon to be the supposedly meek and heroic Ferriman, who originally led the protagonists to the ship.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The two murderous crewmen and by extension, Ferriman, during the mass murder montage on the Graza have no qualms towards killing Katie, a scared young girl.
  • You Are Already Dead: A thin wire rips through everyone on the dance-floor of the ship, instantly cutting them all in half; and yet they remain standing perfectly upright... and slowly all fall apart (when in actuality they'd obviously fall immediately).
  • Your Cheating Heart: Greer has a sweetheart back home. He rationalizes trying to make out with the evil female ghost with the silliest excuse possible: "You can't cheat with a dead person, can you?" This makes his death at the ghost's hands partially karmic.
  • Your Soul Is Mine: Ferriman's entire mission revolves around collecting enough souls so that he can send the entire boatload home, acquiring several hundred souls by the end before they're all freed.


The Enemy BelowSea StoriesJason and the Argonauts
The Good ThiefFilms of 2000 - 2004 Half Past Dead
Ghost SharkGhost FictionGhost Voyage
Ghost SharkHorror FilmsGhost Storm

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