What's most frightening about "Ghost Ship" is the stature of its cast. Gabriel Byrne brooding his way through story after story of old sailors' tales is just laughable. Isaiah Washington ("Welcome to Collinwood") plays a role so trite it's idiotic. And Ron Eldard, whose work on television's ER was exceptional, and whose performance in the HBO drama "Bastard out of Carolina" was extraordinary, here is just sad. Julianna Margulies ("The Man From Elysian Fields") is always a fair actress with nice hair, so her presence is no tragedy. Starring Julianna Margulies, Ron Eldard, Desmond Harrington, Isaiah Washington and Gabriel Byrne. Directed by Steve Beck. Written by Mark Hanlon and John Pogue. Produced by Richard Mirisch and Susan Levine. A Warner Bros. release. Horror. Rated R for strong violence/gore, language and sexuality. Running time: 89 min
"Ghost Ship" director Steve Beck established himself in the industry as a visual effects designer on "The Hunt for Red October," "The Abyss" and "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade." As a feature helmsman, he's brought us "Thirteen Ghosts," a remake of the 1960 William Castle classic, and "Ghost Ship," both of which are absolutely atrocious films for any number of reasons: writing, acting, dialogue, story--and, bafflingly, utterly unengaging visual effects. A mortal sin among his ilk. Speaking of sin, it plays a pivotal part in the goings-on of "Ghost Ship," though it requires a Charlie Chan style recitation of oblique plot points to make even that much clear in this dreadfully trite Halloween fodder. A group of high-seas salvagers are taken to a passenger liner that went missing some 40 years ago. There are ghosts on it. Everyone dies...almost. If only the ghosts had tried a little harder.