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There are two films with the same name, but they are markedly different. This page is about the 2002 film.
In May 1962, hundreds of wealthy passengers enjoy dancing in the luxurious ballroom of an Italian ocean liner, the Antonia Graza, while a beautiful Italian woman (Francesca Rettondini) sings "Senza Fine." Away from the party, a hand presses a lever that unravels a thin wire cord from a spool. Suddenly, the spool snaps and the wire slices across the dance floor like a blade, bisecting the dancers. Only little Katie (Emily Browning) — who is dancing with the Captain — is spared, thanks to her small stature and to the captain leaning protectively over her. She looks up at the Captain's face, which splits open at mouth level as the top of his head falls off. Katie screams and the film cuts to the present day.
A salvage crew — Captain Sean Murphy (Gabriel Byrne), Maureen Epps (Julianna Margulies), Greer (Isaiah Washington), Dodge (Ron Eldard), Munder (Karl Urban) and Santos (Alex Dimitriades) — is celebrating a recent success at a bar, when Jack Ferriman (Desmond Harrington), a Canadian weather service pilot, approaches them and says he has spotted a mysterious vessel running adrift in the Bering Sea. Because the ship is in international waters, it can be claimed by whoever is able to bring it to a port. The crew soon set out on the Arctic Warrior, an ocean salvage tugboat. While exploring the abandoned ship, they discover that it is the Antonia Graza, an Italian luxury liner that disappeared in May 1962 and was believed to be lost at sea. When they board the ship and prepare to tow it to shore, strange things begin to happen. Epps claims to have seen a little girl on the stairwell. Greer claims to have heard the singing of an unseen songstress throughout the ship. Epps and Ferriman discover the corpses of another salvage crew. They decide to leave the ship but take the large quantity of gold that they find on board. Katie tries to warn the crew that the Arctic Warrior has been sabotaged, but the tug explodes as the engine is started, killing Santos and leaving the rest stranded on the ship in the Bering Sea.
This movie contains examples of:
- The Bad Guy Wins: The movie had a fake happy ending, as the cycle is blatantly implied to simply begin anew.
- Batman Gambit: Ferriman.
- Big Bad: Ferriman.
- Bigger Bad: Implied to be Satan.
- Decoy Protagonist: Murphy who dies without any impact on the story whatsoever whereas Epps has the more important role.
- Dwindling Party
- Ghost Ship: Obviously.
- Gold Fever
- Heaven: Where the ghosts of the ship finally supposedly go.
- Kill'Em All: The movie prologue, the origins of the ghost ship.
- Kill the Cutie: Katie met the same fate as everyone else.
- Manipulative Bastard
- Meaningful Name: Ferriman
- Punch Clock Villain: Zig-zagged with Ferriman who claims that he is merely killing the people since "Its his job" but then he mentions getting the job due to a lifetime of sin.