Stars: Charlotte Badham, Josie Connor, Kevin Horsham, Fawn James, Kevin Johnson, James Kennan, Sheena May, Kate Young, Lewis Peek, Joseph Sentance | Written by Hugh Janes | Directed by Robert Young
“Stay away from the water. A haunting love story.”
Whilst going on his usual morning run, Josh (Joseph Sentance) witnesses a woman killing herself by jumping off a bridge. Obviously shaken, he informs the police, but instantly returns to work doing historical recreations on the Phoenix, an historical boat and surprisingly popular tourist trap. As if his life hadn’t become complicated enough, Josh begins to see apparitions of the mysterious woman he witnessed committing suicide. After stumbling across an old photo given to him by his antique dealing friend (Edward Mitchell) and after obsessive research, he seems to believe that the she may be Emily Carson (Kate Young), a young woman who had committed suicide around 160 years previously after her lover was killed in battle. When the apparitions become much more regular and his recent girlfriend Alex (Sheena May) along with his boss Louise (Lizzie Stables) are affected directly, Josh begins to suspect that the ghost of Emily believes he is her true love and will stop at nothing to claim him for her own. With the police somewhat suspicious of Josh and those he cares about being in mortal danger, he must do what he can as quickly as he can to put things right.
As you can clearly tell, this isn’t that cheesy Gabriel Byrne 2002 horror film of the same name starring what seems to be the whole cast of ER. This is a completely different kettle of fish. No pun intended. The original title (and much better title in my opinion.) is Curse of the Wraith. I wonder how many people will pass on this on this one because of the fact that High Fliers Films decided to go with the name Ghost Ship and even utilise freakishly similar artwork to the 2002 film?
The sad thing is, if people do pass up on this one for those reasons, they’re missing out on quite an intriguing piece of low-budget British horror. The film has a really classic ghost story feel to it even though it is based in present day. Aside from the odd jump scare here and there, there is a genuinely unsettling atmosphere throughout. Ghost Ship is of course a slow burner for sure, but one that is effective and plays out in way that maintains the interest. It’s solidly acted throughout also, with characters you want to follow. As well as that, the film is shot and edited nicely and has a sort of air of feature length drama you would see on television. It would definitely work in that regard if it got shown on television.
All in all, I had a great time with this one and I do hope that people get to see it because it’s another great example of British horror filmmaking that doesn’t solely depend on retracing old steps and paying tribute to the classics for the cult film audience.
Ghost Ship is out now on DVD from High Fliers Films.