ghost ship
via Warner Bros.

A fan favorite horror that peaked with its very first scene marks 20 years of disappointment

Peaking early is never a good thing, especially in the very first scene.

Maintaining a level of consistent quality from beginning to end is one of the minimum requirements necessary in creating a popular and well-received movie, but the team behind 2002’s Ghost Ship didn’t get the memo.

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That’s not to say director Steve Beck’s supernatural nightmare is an abject failure from its first minute to last, but a frankly stunning opening soon gives way to rampant mediocrity, something that even the film’s staunchest of defenders are ready, willing, and able to admit.

In fact, a recent Reddit thread digging deep into whether or not Ghost Ship really is a one-scene wonder has found the majority of comments and replies agreeing with the sentiment that it quickly goes off the rails, and it’s not a coincidence that one of the top-voted responses at the time of writing simply reads that “people continue to talk about that opening scene for a very good reason. They also continue to not talk about the rest of the movie, also for a very good reason.”

ghost ship
via Warner Bros.

Ghost Ship opens with a jaw-dropping massacre in 1962, one that ratchets up the tension and atmosphere in stunning fashion by dropping, cleaving, and bisecting bodies like its nobody’s business. Once the action shifts to the present day, though, it quickly becomes a run-of-the-mill haunted house at sea story, and those respective 15 and 37 percent Rotten Tomatoes scores from critics and crowds aren’t exactly an unfair summation.

There’s plenty for longtime gorehounds to enjoy, it must be said, but it’s never a good look for any would-be chiller to hit such dizzying heights right at the very beginning, only to never come close to reaching them again.


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