Rewind Review: 2007’s ‘The Ferryman’

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Boats can be scary.  Big ones like The Titanic and The Poseidon can encounter catastrophes that trigger mass hysteria.  The vessel in Ghost Ship was like a huge haunted city at sea. Small boats have their own set of dangers and terrors including rouge waves and shark attacks, not to mention the inherently claustrophobic close-quarters.  Movies like The Reef, Dead Calm, and Caught Inside are scary enough to keep most land-lovers firmly set on terra firma.  No matter what size your boat, there’s nothing like being at sea to hammer home just how small we are in comparison to Mother Ocean—mere specks on the water.  Cut off from the laws of society, life is cheap.  Most terrifying, perhaps, is that fact the Sea can be a heartless bitch.

The Ferryman is Horror film out of New Zealand that blends the inherent terrors of the ocean with ancient supernatural folklore.

Check out my review after the jump.

Official Synopsis:  Out on a dead calm ocean, in a thick fog, a group of tourists on a pleasure craft are about to cross paths with an ancient and terrible evil. Sharing the same ocean, a sick, dying old Greek man drifts alone on a stricken yacht.

With an intriguing premise, killer DVD artwork, and British actor John Rhys-Davies (Lord of the Rings) in a major role, I was excited to give The Ferryman a spin.  The film starts off promising with three couples (and a watchdog named Rolex) setting out on a 6-day voyage to Fiji.  While everybody seems lovey-dovey, there are clearly some dark undercurrents beneath the surface.

Suze (Kerry Fox) is a nurse recovering from a job-related tragedy; she’s at sea to forget the pain and death that come standard with the job.  Chris and Tate (Craig Hall and Sally Stockwell) are on the verge of engagement, but Chris is conflicted—unable to pull the trigger and pop the questions.  The ship’s Capitan, Big Dave (Tammer Hassan) seems like a jovial sort, but his no-nonsense demeanor and casual machismo hint at a hardened interior.

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For a film with such a great set-up and a talented cast, The Ferryman turned out to be a major disappointment. The First and Third Acts were good, but the unnecessarily long Second Act is ridiculous to the point of tedium. A malevolent spirit armed with an enchanted dagger plays Musical Bodies with the crew of the Dionysus. The dagger allows its holder to jump bodies, leaving the victims soul trapped in the previous host body. Apparently, this spirit (once human) has been at sea for millennia (hopping bodies all the while) and is being stalked by an even more terrifying entity—the titular Ferryman who wants nothing more than to drag him into some ghastly afterlife.

What this movie really needed was some back-story. Who was this body-hopper originally and how did he come across his magical dagger?  What makes him so evil?  Why can’t he return to land?  Without knowing his history and motivations, all we have is an asshole misogynistic rapist—a completely 2-dimentional villain who isn’t terrifying or even very interesting.

We also know almost nothing about the Ferryman. We assume he’s tied to Greek Mythology or perhaps the River Styx, but we aren’t given any context for his existence or his motivation (beyond wanting to punish the dagger-wielding death-cheater).  There’s a hint of something universal and amoral about him (not evil necessarily, just playing his part in a grand scheme) but it’s hard to hypothesize without being given any indication of the filmmakers’ intensions.  After waiting almost the entire movie to get a good look at this beast, we’re treated to nothing more than a few fleeting glances.

The Ferryman

The Ferryman suffers from a terrible bluesy, indie-rock soundtrack that serves to completely shatter any sense of foreboding or suspense.  This film will also upset anyone with sensitivity to the suffering of innocent animals. Poor Rolex dies slowly and painfully on camera before being callously tossed overboard.  There’s also a shark that’s hooked, shot, and mutilated. (Isn’t it funny how us gore-hounds have no problems watching humans getting hacked to shreds, but subject us to the suffering of animals and we’re up in arms!).

I found myself tempted to jump ship and quit The Ferryman a few times.  I stuck around hoping for answers that were never offered.  To its credit, the film does end with a somewhat interesting twist. I also found myself contemplating Suze’s character, her motivations, and her relationship with a disfigured “ghost”.  But as a whole, the film is a mess; not much fun to watch and scant little payoff in the finale.

1 out of 5 Skull Heads.

Trailer: HERE

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Studio First Look
Director Chris Graham
Writer Nick Ward
Starring John Rhys-Davies, Kerry Fox, Sally Stockwell, Amber Sainsbury, Tamer Hassan
Site theferryman-movie.com

 

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About Saucy Josh

I write a blog for intelligent Horror movie aficionados called Blood and Guts for Grown Ups: https://bloodandgutsforgrownups.wordpress.com/ View all posts by Saucy Josh

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