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Film / Ghost Ship

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

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 singer (Francesca Rettondini) performs "Senza Fine." Out of the bow of the ship, a smaller gathering of guest dance on a raised platform, when a hand presses a lever that winds up a thin wire cord from a spool. Suddenly, the spool snaps and the wire slices across the dance floor like a blade, bisecting every dancer on the floor. Things fall apart and only little Katie (Emily Browning) — who is dancing with the Captain — are left standing, 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 at the unbelievably horrific scene as the ship disappears never to be seen again.

In 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, their ocean salvage tugboat. While exploring the abandoned ship, they discover that it is the long-lost Antonia Graza. 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.

And then things start to go from bad to worse.

This movie contains examples of:

  • Anachronism Stew: The traitorous crew members of the Graza use CZ 75 handguns when they massacre the ship's passengers in the flashback. However, the CZ 75 wasn't made until 1975, a full 13 years after the Graza's disappearance.
  • Anachronistic Clue: Dodge finds a digital watch on board the Antonia Graza, which has been lost since since 1962, which tells the salvage crew that they are not the first people to have been on board since the ship disappeared.
  • Artistic License – History: After returning to the Arctic Warrior after an initial inspection of the Antonia Graza, Murphy explains the story of a ghost ship called the Mary Celeste, stating that during the Civil War (1861-1865) the Mary Celeste had set sail from Charleston to London with a hold full of cotton, but was later found two months later of the coast of Tripoli by fishermen, who found the ship devoid of life, and the last log entry dated fifty-nine days earlier, yet the ship had managed to sail 4500 miles across the ocean, past the Rock of Gibraltar and into the Mediterranean Sea at full sail without anyone at the helm. In reality, while the Mary Celeste is indeed known as a ghost ship, the details of Murphy's story are inaccurate: the ship had set sail from New York for Genoa on the 7th of November 1872, carrying a cargo of alcohol, and was later found, at partial sail, not full, by the crew of the Dei Gratia was about 400 miles east of the Azores Islands on the 5th of December that same year, when crew members spotted a ship adrift in the choppy seas. The last log entry was dated to the 25th November- ten days before the ship's discovery, revealing that the ship had drifted 400 miles without anyone on board as all of the ship's inhabitants, along with the lifeboat, were missing.
  • 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 instead to risk her life 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.
  • Big "NO!": The movie ends with this being Epps' final word when she sees that Ferriman is alive and well, and starting his plan all over again.
  • Bilingual Bonus: "Senza Fine" means "Endless", which is a perfect description of Ferriman's plan.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Sure, Epps may have saved all the souls onboard the Graza and survived, but Ferriman still exists - and the souls of the Arctic Warrior crew, her friends, are still under his control, carrying another load of unmarked gold bars onto the cruise ship that rescued her before her eyes just before the credits roll. Here We Go Again!
  • Blood Is Squicker in Water: When Munder is killed and his body sucked into the pumps that are pumping out the ship, the water in the clear hose turns pink.
  • The Chanteuse: Francesca is the typical sultry lounge singer, but on a luxury Italian cruise ship. 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 depicts a group of partygoers dancing in the ballroom of an ocean liner and another smaller group of dancers on the bow of the ship. An unseen person hooks up a spool of wire cord level with the raised dance floor out on the deck. The spool winds up tension and snaps across the outdoor space, and the guests look around to see what's wrong. It turns out that all of the guests (save for Katie) have been bisected, falling apart more than ten seconds after the incident. Of note is the captain of the ship, who was dancing with Katie. With quick reflexes, he had crouched down to protect her, only to have taken the wire across the face, 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 manipulates part of Antonia Graza's crew into murdering 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!!!
    • Munder is shredded into a cloud of blood underwater after getting caught between rotating gears.
  • Death by Materialism: The entire plot revolves around this as Ferriman attempts to get the cast to try and make off with the gold on the ship so that he can kill them and drag their souls to hell. He's also done it with multiple other ships and salvage crews before now.
  • Death of a Child: Katie survives the razor wire murder scene, but only because she is short enough that the wire goes over her head. She is later murdered and, based on the lascivious expression of one of her killers, implied to be raped anyway by two insane crew members.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Captain Murphy, who dies without any impact on the story whatsoever, whereas Epps has the more important role.
  • Demon of Human Origin: Ferriman reveals himself to be one of Hell's agents, a "salvage expert" responsible for collecting new souls to bring back home and keep The Management happy. Specifically, he notes that he was given the job for a lifetime of sin, indicating that he was once human.
  • Diagonal Cut: Happens in the prologue. When the cables tear through Antonia Graza's deckside party, dismembering everyone on the dance floor, most cuts are horizontal as the victims are standing. The captain, who was dancing with Katie, bent down in an odd pose to protect her and, after a few seconds of delay to look around at the carnage, she watches the cut form across his head.
  • Dramatic Drop: Murphy drops the glass of whisky he is holding when his reflection in the mirror briefly changes to that of the captain of the Antonia Graza.
  • 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 derelict liner. 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 previous salvage crews and explorers, with the relatively fresh bodies in the laundry room being from a previous crew he led into the trap.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: In the end, Ferriman tries to tempt Epps into his trap by turning into Dodge, whom he's just killed. He tries to trick her by expressing feelings for her, but fails horribly because he believes the material items he offers will win her over after he killed her entire crew. 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. He's incredibly frustrated and angry after she rejects him, saying the following as he's drowning her.
    "I gave you a great opportunity!"
    • He explains that while the souls of those who gave in to greed, lust, or other deadly sins are "marked" and thus under his control, the souls of the innocent victims like Katie and the Captain are merely trapped, and are still themselves. He finds this annoying.
  • Exactly What I Aimed At: When Epps points the speargun at Jack Ferriman, he laughs and asks what she intends to do, kill him? She fires and he realises too late that she is actually aiming at the detonator to set off the C-4 she planted.
  • Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon: Jack Ferriman has a very meek, boyish appearance and comes across as shy and non-threatening. In reality he is a demonic, shapeshifting entity responsible for the gruesome deaths that took place on the ship.
  • The Ferryman: The Ferryman turns out to be the Big Bad, using the disguise of a human named Jack Ferriman. He describes himself as a "salvage expert", only he collects souls to ferry them to hell, and takes a remarkably sadistic and bloodthirsty approach in doing so.
  • 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.
    • The huge painting on the Graza depicting Charon, the Ferryman of the dead.
  • Frigid Water Is Harmless: The movie ends with Epps, the Sole Survivor of the salvage crew, clinging to debris in the Bering Sea, which has an average temperature of 34-41 F. It's not specified how much time she spends adrift before a passing cruise ship picks her up, but realistically she would only have survived for two hours.
  • Ghost Ship: A salvage crew discovers a long-lost 1962 passenger ship floating lifeless in a remote region of the Bering Sea, and soon notices that its long-dead inhabitants may still be on board.
  • Glamour: The ghost of Francesca uses her sultry lounge singer appearance to seduce Greer in order to kill him. After he's disposed of, she immediately shifts back into the rotten corpse she has become.
  • God Job: The villain reveals he was given his job of collecting 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?
  • Greater-Scope Villain: 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.
  • The Great Repair: After their tug the Arctic Warrior is sunk, the surviving members of the salvage crew decide that their best hope for survival is to patch the hole in the Antonia Graza's hull, pump out the water, free the rudder, and try to keep the ship from running aground on the rocks until rescue arrives.
  • 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.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: It's made quite clear that the gold bars are stolen loot from somewhere by their lack of markings, but the salvagers don't care, just declaring "hey, we're in international waters, so finders, keepers!". The crew of the Graza were so hungry for it that they murdered everyone else onboard to obtain it.
  • Ground by Gears: Munder is crushed to death under the ship's gears while scuba diving in the flooded engine room.
  • Half the People They Used to Be: Every single person, except for Katie, in the opening scene. The only reason she survives is because she's short enough that the high-tension cable goes over her head instead of through her body as it cuts across the deck.
  • Heaven: Where the ghosts of the ship's innocent ("unmarked") victims finally supposedly go after Epps frees them from Ferriman. This possibly doesn't include the "marked" souls of the murderers; although they were manipulated, they still willfully participated in horrific acts of slaughter.
  • Hell: Ferriman works for the establishment after a lifetime of sin. He's planning on sinking Antonia Graza once his quota is filled, sending all of the trapped/damned souls there when he does.
  • He Knows Too Much: Ferriman was already planning to kill all of the crew anyways, but Murphy discovering a picture of him dated in 1962 from the Graza’s captain’s ghost, who informs him that Ferriman was the only survivor on the Lorelei and the one who led them to the gold makes him realize what is really going on, so Ferriman gets rid of him immediately by making Murphy appear to be insane to the crew and then drowning him afterwards so he can’t tell them.
  • 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 cruise ship. Then in the last scene she sees an unharmed Ferriman walk by, taking the gold chests onto another ship and starting the cycle anew.
  • Hooks and Crooks: In the flashback to the 1962 sequence, Francesca experiences the final double cross of the night when Ferriman uses his telekinetic abilities to loosen a massive cargo hook which swings down and snags her under the jawbone. He "marks" her as she dies from the injury.
    • In a DVD special feature, when her backstory and motivation for taking part in the massacre are revealed, her death is foreshadowed with the line I'll admit, I'm hooked...
  • Imminent Danger Clue: A pendulum clock is ticking when the crew enter the ship. A dusty but still powered digital wristwatch (on a ship that went missing in 1962) is found on the bridge of Antonia Graza.
  • Jacob Marley Apparel: The ghosts, particularly Katie and Francesca, are shown dressed in the same clothes they died in.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Katie is unaffected by the evil's creeping influence over all the other victims of the curse as she died innocent and always will be (despite some dark hints in regard to the manner of her murder).
  • Kill the Cutie: Poor Katie met the same fate as everyone else.
  • Last Note Nightmare: The film's score on the soundtrack titled "The Souls Ascend", which is the hauntingly beautiful score in which Epps defeats Ferriman, frees all the lost souls trapped on the Graza, and is later rescued by a passing cruise ship. The score gently fades, as if to say the worst is finally over... but NOPE! We're suddenly greeted by a blaring Scare Chord to indicate the film's ending.
  • Lazy Bum: Dodge and Munder are constantly playing "rock, paper, scissors" to get the other guy to do the job at hand.
  • 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.
  • Lust: Francesca uses her allure to drive men to murder for her, or unwittingly kill themselves trying to have sex with her when she's dead.
  • 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 potentially lucrative salvage operation and then 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. Even if he can't corrupt someone, he will still have them murdered, since their soul will be trapped on the ship and still count toward his "quota." 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.
  • Mood Whiplash: When Epps explores Katie's cabin. They even play some soothing music in the background as Epps looks through all the typical little girl items, like her toys, her doll, her drawings. She's lulled by the innocence of it all, until she opens the closet and finds Katie's mummified body, hanged.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Francesca wears a formfitting, strapless red dress when singing for the passengers. She’s also shown topless while enticing Greer, and nude from the back before she tricks Greer into falling into the elevator shaft.
  • Mythical Motifs: Francesca's ghost evokes sirens; she's a supernatural woman who lures sailors to their doom by singing.
  • 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. However, Greer himself is subsequently lured to his death by Francesca. He didn't fall for greed or wrath, so Ferriman and Francesca got him with lust instead.
  • 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 mortal sin of Greed to damn their own souls, which he can then take "home" when he fills his quota. If they don't fall for Greed, he will attempt to get them with Wrath, Lust, or Pride. Failing that, innocent souls will still be trapped on the ship if they die onboard, so he can still take them to Hell even though they haven't been damned. He can shapeshift, recover from gunshot wounds, and mark the ghosts of the damned who fell to one of the mortal sins 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 visions (true and false) 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. It's explained that only those damned by a mortal sin can be marked.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Razor Floss: A support wire is used for just the first part of the mass murder in the opening scene.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Ferriman hasn't aged one iota since his massacre onboard the Antonia Graza in 1962, as well as the one he did aboard the Lorelei prior to that. It's likely that the Lorelei wasn't his first gig and Lord knows how long he's been collecting souls for Hell.
  • Recycled In Space: Kind of inverted here. More like Recycled FROM Space; it's Event Horizon ON A BOAT!
  • 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 and killed Francesca after she had killed the last crewman; he hasn't aged a day since the 1960s, and lured Epps' crew to the Graza as well.
  • Rock–Paper–Scissors: Dodge and Munder play this whenever there’s a task that neither of them want to do. Dodge always wins.
  • Sarcastic Confession: The major reveal in the film is innocuously foreshadowed pretty early on, but this only becomes clear in hindsight.
    Epps: Have you told anyone else about this?
    Ferriman: Not a living soul.
  • 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. He seems most fond of greed, given his modus operandi, but if that doesn't work he'll try to get them with wrath, lust, or pride.
  • Shout-Out: The poster of this film is very clearly riffed from Death Ship.
    • Katie's fate very much resembles that of Sejanus' daughter Junilla in I, Claudius.
  • Shown Their Work: The movie opens with the passengers aboard the Antonia Graza dressed to the nines and dancing on the deck and in the ballroom. Decades ago in the time period the film starts in, it used to be a real tradition to hold dances, also known as a “Captain's Ball”, to celebrate the end of a trans-Atlantic journey.
  • Slashed Throat: 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 Ferriman 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 Antonia Graza during the massacre. During this there's a scene in the kitchen showing that the conspirators have murdered the ship's cooks and are putting rat poison in the 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 drowning 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.
  • Unstoppable Rage: 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.
  • 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 
  • Vehicle Title: Ghost Ship
  • Villainous Glutton: Dodge and Munder, two of the guys from the Arctic 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 maggotsinvoked.
  • 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 with 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).
  • You Remind Me of X: When they first officially meet, Katie tells Epps that she reminds her of her mother.
  • 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.