Ghost Rig

Reviewed By Brian McKay
Posted 07/13/03 04:01:06

"So we've had GHOST SHIP, and GHOST RIG. What's next? GHOST DINGHY? BUOY?"
2 stars (Pretty Bad)

If you give me a choice between watching a low-budget American horror movie, and a low-budget Brit horror movie, I'll usually side with the Brits. Sometimes you get lucky and stumble upon an instant classic like DOG SOLDIERS, but usually you get this - a bland mish mash of horror themes derived from popular and better American genre flicks that still manages to be slightly better than its equally derivative American counterparts.

As with most horror flicks of this nature, it usually begins with A)big, spooky locale and B)Small to mid-size group (always enough to provide a decent body count) becoming stuck in said locale under some pretext.

In this case, the big spooky setting is an abandoned oil rig that is scheduled to be demolished and toppled into the sea. The hapless group is the dozen or so members of an environmental activist cell bearing the generic moniker of "Action Planet". The pretext is that the group has decided to take over the rig and occupy it to delay its destruction, until they've had time to gather evidence proving that the demolition will taint the local seabed with residual crude and toxic waste. Naturally, though, they are soon stranded there by foul weather, right around the time the killing starts. See, someone . . . or something, is offing our cast of generically handsome lads and busty lasses, and it could even be one of their own!

Okay, it's a familiar concept, but it doesn't sound too awful on paper. Sadly, though, there's a long leap between a halfway decent premise and an effective execution, and Ghost Rig, for the most part, just can't make that leap. What you end up with is several scenes lifted from the likes of Aliens, Blair Witch Project, and The Thing, but without a punchy enough script or good enough performances to really tie it together and make it all work. Most of the cast is pretty bland, and aren't really around long enough to get to know or care about. The only real standouts are Vincent, the somewhat overzealous team leader, Iona, the slightly butch but still hot tough chick, Thomas, the wheelchair bound everyman with a secret or two, and "Mole", the obligatory skinny brainiac twerp of the bunch with the odd nickname and a penchant for saying things like "I've got a bad feeling about this." And while none of the performances are awful, none of them particularly help sell the film either. They're all pretty forgettable (though that Iona looks like she'd throw a good shag).

There are a few scattered moments of creepiness, but not as many as there should be. The abandoned rig is a pretty good potential setting for a scary story, but it isn't used nearly well enough to achieve the desired spooky atmosphere for any length of time, and the story isn't strong enough to help enhance the atmosphere. The supernatural menace threatening the crew is explained and accepted by them all too quickly, but is never explained to the audience in any convincing manner.

Still, there are a couple of pretty good surprises at the end that almost redeem Ghost Rig. It's just a shame that their effect is diminished by the fact that the story and characters leading up to them are worthy of so little involvement.

I guess when all is said and done, I'd still rather watch this than a movie like WRONG TURN or DARKNESS FALLS. But that can hardly be called a glowing reccommendation - and really, how much can you expect from a movie that changed its title (0riginally THE DEVIL'S TATOO) and marketing scheme to try and capitalize off of an American-made turkey like GHOST SHIP?

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