Lost Voyage (2001)
"After 30 years in the Bermuda Triangle... a GHOST SHIP returns."
Twenty-five years ago, the SS Corona Queen disappeared in the region known as the Bermuda Triangle. When it suddenly re-appears, a team of investigators head on board with a salvage team to find out what happened. But the ship didn’t return from the Bermuda Triangle alone.
Ghost Ship anyone? Incorrectly speaking to class it a rip-off, Lost Voyage was actually made first and manages to be better than the previously mentioned horror flick, opting not to go for the visual jugular with gore and special effects but instead trying to craft a more traditional and scary ghost flick. Though the fact the tag line features the words GHOST SHIP in capital letters clearly gives you an indication of just how they were trying to market this. Actually Lost Voyage has more in common with 1997’s sci-fi horror Event Horizon with a ship mysteriously reappearing and a group trying to piece together what happened. Comparing it to both bigger budget films is decent praise to kick off the review and Christian McIntire’s ambitious shocker is certainly punching above its own weight.
For a TV movie, Lost Voyage does relatively well for its budgetary limitations. The first thing that will strike you is how pedestrian it all looks though. There’s little life and energy to the cinematography and everything is glossed over with that typical TV-movie low budget sheen. This is a shame as the ship itself looks pretty spooky at times and the sets are quite atmospheric. But they lack that extra enhancement which some high production cinematography could have given them. Even though the film is set solely at night, the ship itself is too well lit. Dimming the lights a little to create dark and shadowy backgrounds is what the film should have done.
There are a couple of decent performances from Janet Gunn as the reporter and Judd Nelson as the researcher - they could have been just any other stereotypical cannon fodder characters but at least they bring a bit of depth and likeability to their roles. Nelson could have cut out his mumbling though as he sometimes drifts through his dialogue. Lance Henriksen pops up and manages to completely outshine his previous six or seven roles in low budget films to remind us that he was once a decent character actor before he was reduced to slumming in trash such as Mangler 2: Graduation Day. Lost Voyage utilises its cast well by creating characters who are well-written for a change and it is refreshing to see. They do (for the most part) sensible things - Henriksen's character tells the rest of the group that they have to get off the ship as soon as the first person is killed. He’s not bothered about the money on board and just wants to save his life. Characters do things that give them believability, not just provide opportunities to put them into set pieces. However, the script obviously stops them from doing the obvious!
Sadly, little else makes sense in the film and you'll be left with more questions than answers. The ghosts themselves are mean spirited in some occasions but are quite happy to let characters walk past other times without even batting an eyelid at them. There are a few small plot threads that aren't explained very well (if at all) such as the ghosts using people's fears against them. And of course, when you're watching a ‘haunted place’ film you should expect to feel one or two shivers which this film greatly fails to produce. Lost Voyage never goes all out to try and frighten the audience, setting up plenty of scares but failing to see them through to the end.
The special effects for the ghosts aren’t bad for CGI and are used sparingly but you won't actually care because they look quite graceful when floating around the ship. For once CGI has its appropriate uses and the ghosts aren’t overdone. They’re not scary though although you do get the sense that the individual ghosts are all part of something infinitely more intimidating and terrifying from wherever the ship has been hiding for the past couple of decades. CGI is also used to bring the ship to life in exterior shots, usually accompanied by some trademark thunder, lightning, rain and big crashing waves. Though the effects don't look amazing, you can at least appreciate that the effects team behind Lost Voyage at least made an effort with this film and their limited resources.
Lost Voyage is an ambitious film held down by its budget and lack of creativity. For a TV movie it's impressive and looks and sounds good throughout. But it lacks the finishing touch and without any real chills or scares throughout, the film suffers from being too familiar with the same material from any other ghost ship film, just not as violent or gory.
Director(s): Christian McIntire
Writer(s): Christian McIntire (story), Patrick Phillips (story)
Actor(s): Judd Nelson, Janet Gunn, Jeff Kober, Lance Henriksen, Scarlett Chorvat, Richard Gunn, Mark Sheppard, Ray Laska
Duration: 96 mins