Set and production design ... brilliant. It's incredibly difficult to not believe it's being filmed on location on a real decrepit, falling-apart ship. Inside and outside, it's filled with lush visuals that draw you into the movie. But i'm jumping ahead of myself.
The beginning is awesome. I love it. Never before have I been so impressed by the first couple of minutes of a movie, like I have been with Ghost Ship. Although the 'dramatic pause' after the event goes on for a bit too long (it doesn't really build up tension because you know what happened) the effect still works well overall and the special effects and acting are pretty damn good. Very nice. As is all the gory stuff in the movie.
Katie is brilliant. The first close-up we get of her, she looks cold and wet and although not frightening, she looks seriously spooky. Initially, I was mentally preparing myself for her to be heavily involved in the 'scares' of the movie, but was pleasantly surprised at her innocence throughout the movie, revealing later on exactly why she is the way she is.
The acting is solid enough - not brilliant (with exception of Katie, who does a very good job of tensing things up again - more so than any scare tactics) and the direction is pretty good, with the focus being on the right things and the pace of the movie consistent.
I do feel not enough attention was paid to the history behind the back-story of the ship's strange events (i.e. the "Lusitania" and how the gold came to be on the ghost ship itself) as well as a suspiciously obvious lack of character background for some of the characters, although the lack of it doesn't really detract from the movie itself, but makes you realize how important these details can be after watching the movie.
Emotionally I swayed through the movie. Many times I was thoroughly engaged to it, and you feel like a part of the world. At other times I felt totally disconnected as the actors didn't do enough to keep my attention. But then, something would happen that would raise my eyebrows just a bit.
Speaking of that, the scene where Katie takes Epps 'back' and shows her what happened - wow! I must say that I love that scene ... the camera work is awesome and the acting from the many extras is outstanding. But once again, it is what happens to Katie that is utterly harrowing. It's not often that I utter "Oh my God ..." in a soft shocked whisper as my mouth refuses to close. That scene packed a punch that lasted a long time.
On the other hand, the scene near the end with the people in the cargo room was totally rushed, with just too much happening and too many switches and deaths and, well, the message is obvious but it occurs with seemingly minor character such as Francesca that didn't seem to (at the time) make any significant contribution to the story. Having said that, after re-watching, I see how Francesca fits into it, based on the motive of the characters and the flow of the story. But it just seems a bit over-the-top ... not in violence, but in concept.
The thing that killed it ... the ending. Awful. Did they run out of money? Time? I just didn't get why it had to end like that. Sequels aside (how can there be a successful sequel? The 'Antonio Graza' sunk ... so would there be a different boat? Hmmmm...) the ending feels totally pointless. I didn't get it, and I didn't like it either. Do the bad souls leave the ship and go to another ship in the near future??
Having said that, I think the whole 'souls' thing is a bit ridiculous, because despite it tying in with the movie's concept, it seems to justify having strange occurrences on the ship, rather than having the strange occurrences justify the reason for the ghosts. I hope that makes some sense.
At the risk of looking at this too deeply for a horror flick, I think that there's more to the gold than just being 'stolen gold' - in my mind, the movie is not about the ghosts, or the gold, or the ship. It's mostly about pure greed - which the gold represents, and the evil in people which will never die. Which is the only reason why the ending could be as it is, in my eyes, since 'evil' walks out with the gold, to trap some more people into 'being evil' and therefore 'selling his soul' - note that the gold has no markings AT ALL and the tracing numbers have been 'filed down' - does the gold even exist??? After all, it was pure greed that got the crew out there in the first place, even though there was a good chance that they'd leave with nothing of significant value despite the attached investment of time and money but without being 'intentionally' greedy.
Anyway, those are some questions that I wasn't too sure about after watching the movie, even after another viewing. So, overall, pretty decent. But more work needed to be put into the ending and the character development ... even if it added an extra 15 minutes. It would turn a goodish movie into a solidly good movie.
6/10 is too low, 7/10 is too high. 6.5 but promoted to 7 because of that awesome opening and 'flashback' scene.