What do you get when you take John Carpenter's The Thing and place it upon an oil rig in the middle of the ocean? A movie whose creative well has run dry.
Ghost Rig is the film in question, and it takes place on an abandoned oil rig, somewhere in the ocean. A group of activists calling themselves "Action Planet" have landed on the rig, with hopes of taking it over so that they can sink it and turn it into an artificial reef. (Do what?) But, they find the rig to be deserted. Former rig worker Crawford (Noel Fitzpatrick), who was hired by "Action Planet" group leader Vincent (Jaason Simmons) as a consultant, explains that he doesn't know where the crew could be. As the group searches the rig, they find no crew, but they are able to restore power to the platform. As if the deserted rig weren't strange enough, the group members soon begin to act strange, acting out violently towards one another. And several members who had sustained minor wounds, are suddenly healed. Could these events have anything to do with those odd occult markings found in one of the rooms?
While it's quite hard to find an original horror film these days, Ghost Rig is one of the least original films that I've seen in ages, as it combines elements from many past movies. You've got the group which arrives at a location, only to find it deserted (fill in the blank with any number of movies here). Once there, they find odd clues that spell disaster, yet they are forced to remain there because of the storm which is raging outside (once again, name any movie). They then find a videotape which explains what became of the previous inhabitants of the location. (Of course, before videotape, a diary would often be found.) As far as recent films go, the first half of Ghost Rig is very reminiscent of Event Horizon, but the latter half is taken directly from Carpenter's The Thing. Without giving too much away, let's just say that a scenario occurs where no one can be trusted, and a test must be done to find out who the bad guy is, and let's just get some lawyers on the phone, shall we.
Now, is it a sin to be unoriginal? Not necessarily. The problem with Ghost Rig is that it's so incredibly boring. If you love to watch British people wander dark corridors, then you're going to love this film. Otherwise, you'll sit there wondering when something is going to happen. At the outset, I began to suspect that the film wasn't going to be anything new, so I begin to wait for the obligatory scene where they discover a dead body. And I waited, and waited. Allow me to spoil the suspense by saying that this does eventually happen, but it takes a long time. It's hard to believe that it took four people to write this boring mess, and they never even bother to tell us what's going on. To the film's credit, the cast tries it's hardest, and director Julian Kean tries to shoot the same five sets in an interesting way, but Ghost Rig should remain lost at sea.
Ghost Rig is presented on this DVD in an anamorphic widescreen, and the image has been letterboxed at 1.85:1. The picture reveals the low-budget nature of this production, as the image shows a noticeable amount of grain and some heavy artifacting at times. On the plus side, the image is sharp and the colors are good. The transfer's greatest strength comes during the dark scenes, where the action is still very visible, but the grain is not. Overall, this transfer is below average.
The DVD contains a Dolby 2-channel stereo soundtrack. This track provides clear dialogue and sound effects with no discernible hissing or distortion. There are occasional examples of nice stereo effects. But, that's about it. Given that the film is about an abandoned oil rig, this is one film where a surround sound mix would have certainly helped the weak proceedings.
The only extras on the DVD are previews for other releases from MTI Home Video.
The original title for Ghost Rig was "The Devil's Tatoo" (and apparently, it goes by that name everywhere else in the world). But that lame title wouldn't have made this stinker any better. Do yourself a favor and just watch The Thing again.