It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"Ghost Ship" recycles all the usual haunted house material, but because it's about a haunted ocean liner, it very nearly redeems itself. Yes, doors open by themselves to reveal hanging corpses. Yes, there's a glimpse of a character who shouldn't be there. Yes, there's a cigarette burning in an ashtray that hasn't been used in 40 years. And yes, there's a struggle between greed and prudence as the dangers pile up.
These are all usual elements in haunted house movies, but here they take place aboard the deserted--or seemingly deserted--hulk of the Antonia Graza, an Italian luxury liner that disappeared without a trace during a 1962 cruise to America and has now been discovered 40 years later, floating in the Bering Strait. A salvage crew led by Gabriel Byrne and Julianna Margulies sets out to capture this trophy, which could be worth a fortune.
Echoes from long-ago geography classes haunted me as I watched the film, because the Bering Sea, of course, is in the North Pacific, and if the Antonia Graza disappeared from the North Atlantic, it must have succeeded in sailing unattended and unnoticed through the Panama Canal. Or perhaps it rounded Cape Horn, or the Cape of Good Hope. Maybe its unlikely position is like a warning that this ship no longer plays by the rules of the physical universe.
The salvage crew is told about the ship by Ferriman (Desmond Harrington), a weather spotter for the Royal Canadian Air Force. He got some photos of it, and tips them off in return for a finder's fee. On board the salvage tug are Murphy the skipper (Byrne), Epps the co-owner (Margulies), and crew members Greer (Isaiah Washington), Dodge (Ron Eldard), Munder (Karl Urban) and Santos (Alex Dimitriades). Under the time-honored code of horror movies, they will disappear in horrible ways in inverse proportion to their billing--although of course there's also the possibility they'll turn up again.