In 1962 the ocean liner Antonia Graza disappeared while on a cruise. Now, in the present day, the crew of the tug boat Arctic Warrior, led by Murphy (Gabriel Byrne) are offered a proposition by a young man who has spotted the ship in the Bering Sea. If they track down the missing ship, they can have a share of the cargo - but when they do track it down, they get a share of something the original passengers and crew got instead... death.
Ghost Ship was scripted by Mark Hanlon and John Pogue, and was produced by the same team which had given us the two William Castle remakes, House on Haunted Hill and Thirteen Ghosts. This same production team had also given us the short lived Tales from the Crypt film franchise, and with Ghost Ship they seemed to be continuing a series of films based around the old haunted house theme, only this time, the creepy mansion is a rusting vessel with its own share of phantoms.
The opening is an audacious scene of horror which features party goers meeting an ingeniously grim end (I won't spoil it for you), raising your hopes for the next eighty five minutes of spooky goings on. When the Arctic Warrior finds the Antonia Graza (despite its erratic appearance on the radar), they perform a whole half hour of looking around, encountering various unsettling things like a child's word puzzle that changes from "I am so bored" to "Welcome Abored", and an anachronistic digital watch that still works.
Then they find the gold, which brings out their avaricious natures - it's always a good idea to keep those impulses in check in films like this, as they inevitably lead to downfall. The second the salvage team decides to keep their prize, the bad things happen, picking them off one by one in time honoured fashion. It's all comfortably predictable, with its emphasis on decay bringing out the scares (don't eat what you find in the cans!), and the clichés piling up.
Julianna Margulies essays the Ripley role, some of the victims are driven mad by hallucinations, there's a guessable twist and a "shock" ending (but not before a curiously sentimental scene for the spirits of the passengers). Plus the expected gore and a spot of gratuitous nudity, of course. Ghost Ship grows less interesting as you find out more of what happened to those passengers, and the whole "collecting souls" thing is superfluous, but for a little slick, mindless entertainment, you could do worse. But you could do better, too. Music by John Frizzell.