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Ghostship

AH WELL, it is those times again! When horror movies of all kinds are winding their way into theatres. After all the vampires and netherworld creatures that scream and howl through frames, it is now the turn of a rather romantic setting of a liner gone awry. There are ghosts trapped and the unsuspecting crew of a salvaging ship finds a lot more than a sunken treasure.

Warner Bros' "Ghostship" is about a seafaring vessel that is carting around souls that have been slaughtered. The ship in question is Antonia Graza, an Italian luxury liner that suffered this ghastly fate way back in the 60s.

Forty years later, an Alaskan salvage crew cruising the Bering Strait locates the grim Graza in the middle of the night and finds that there is more to the ship than just boxes of gold ingots. The crew, headed by Sean Murphy (Gabriel Byrne), is thrilled of course _ not just with the vast fortune, which, as one of them says, "On the high seas, its finders keepers,'' but with also the discovery of a scrap ship long forgotten.

But then, life isn't what it is if there is no catch. Here, it is in the form of eerie music, ghosts floating around, corpses in the basement, blood oozing out of walls and floors _ and then though these carefully selected politically correct mix of racial personalities (Isaiah Washington, Alex Dimitriades, Juliana Margulies,) are smart _ they are not that smart to get off the ship on time even when they start disappearing one by one.

There are scenes of gore _ especially the one where, without warning, the passengers of the luxury liner are sliced in half by a makeshift wire sort of a thing _ its bloody and pretty effective, but the rest of the film does not really live up to this sequence even if it keeps throwing up ghosts, bloodied bodies and doors opening and closing on their own.

After some time, you want to yawn and ask the director (Steve Beck) to get on with the release of `all tortured souls'. Often, one is also reminded of the Titanic (in terms of the sets) though of course the theme is completely different. It is reasonably scary for anyone to see for a while _ but then don't say I didn't warn you about its several blithe, on-the-surface puzzles that don't actually tax your brains too much.

CHITRA MAHESH

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