The Ferryman

Film review by Thomas M. Sipos




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The Ferryman  (2007, dir: Chris Graham; cast: John Rhys-Davies, Kerry Fox, Tamer Hassan, Amber Sainsbury, Craig Hall, Julian Arahanga, Sally Stockwell)




This isn't a great horror film, but it delivers.

Six city folk on a boat, in the middle of nowhere, shrouded in fog. It makes for a nicely claustrophobic atmosphere.

They see another boat, apparently abandoned. Abandoned ghost ships are a horror staple, but it's well done here. Nice and eerie. They then find a lone survivor on board -- a grizzled sailor -- but of course, he's not what he initially seems.

They bring the sailor (John Rhys-Davies) aboard their own boat and, well, it's kind of like Anaconda, when those nice city folk brought the grizzled Jon Voight aboard their boat. Not a good idea. You're trapped in the middle of nowhere with a strange and menacing man.

In this case, the sailor turns out to be supernatural. He has the ability to switch bodies, but he has to kill the person to do it. And he keeps switching bodies, so the body count mounts. Happily, it's a generous body count, with lots of good guy/sympathetic victims. That's important in a horror film.

Once the killings start, the pace never lets up.

It's a very basic horror tale, with basic character types. The bitchy blonde and her hen-pecked wuss of a boyfriend. The smart brunette and her strong, silent type beau. Even so, there are shocks and surprises -- and not arbitrary surprises. I didn't see some of the plot twists coming, but when they occurred, they made sense, having been nicely set up.

Yes, it's true. The ferryman angle was barely explored. The fabled ferryman of Greek mythology barely puts in an appearance. The story's locale is New Zealand, where The Ferryman was shot, and not the Aegean Sea, despite the sailor being referred to as "the Greek." And despite his mystical powers, he isn't the ferryman, but an ancient soul who's trying to evade the ferryman.




That's not a spoiler. It's pretty evident early on that "the Greek" is not the fabled ferryman.

The Ferryman is not a horror classic. It's not terribly original (though thankfully, it's not about the usual college kids hiding from a slasher or Japanese type ghost -- way too many of those these past six or seven years). Even so, it held my interest. I bought the DVD in a bargain bin for $3.99, and it was worth it.

Review copyright by Thomas M. Sipos


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