thing we see is the “City Heat” logo, which is okay, but
the soundtrack sounds suspiciously like that old Dolby thing, where
the helicopter flew over the city and so on. Of course, all
helicopters sound alike to me, so it's probably just a coincidence.
The credits proper start with a nice Rich McHugh score, and a large cruise ship descending through filters to make it look like it's underwater and sinking. We see various parts of the ship as the credits roll, including a name, “Corona” all overlaid with this watery distortion. The writing credit is genuinely odd: story by Christian McIntire and Patrick Phillips, then the same names in reverse order for the screenplay credit. I guess who thought of what was pretty important.
And we start out with a black screen and “Miami – 1972” for our flashback. It's gotta be a flashback, right? Who's gonna set a movie in the seventies? Well, yes, right, fine, I should have said, besides Quentin Tarrantino. And we fade in on a guy buying his kid a balloon. They are all boarding a huge cruise ship, waved aboard by a smiling Erik Estrada type. (For the record, the hair and clothing don't look near ugly enough to be 1972, but hey, low budget and all. And CGI can only do so much.)
Kid with balloon doesn't seem to be having a good time at all. And we soon find out why. Turns out he's not going to go with dad and step-mom, because this little voyage will be their honeymoon, their “alone time.” Kid looks to be about 10, I don't suspect this sort of talk will work on him...and I'm right. Step-mom gives him a present as a molifyer, and he lets it drop to the gangplank, saying “She's not my mother!”
“Aaron, that's a terrible thing to say!” says dad. Um, well, perhaps he's not being nice, dad, but, uh, she kind of isn't his mother, you know. Cough. Turns out the kid's real mom is dead, so you can see where his issues spring up.
Now, the cinematography during this bit is way overexposed, which is kind of a cool way to evoke the 70's without all the awful fashions and hair and stuff. It kind of looks like old slides from that era, all burned out and faded. Kudos to whoever thought of this, McIntire or Phillips.
Anyway, step-mom decides enough of this, and goes on board. Dad tries to talk to Aaron, but he turns away to grandma (I hope that's who it is—maybe old ladies in the 70's would just be surrogate grandmas to anyone who hugged them?) and she kind of waves at dad, saying, just go on and have a nice honeymoon—homewrecker! Dad rises in frustration, and moves out of frame.
And we cut to a late night storm. The screen caption says 27 degrees N, 69 degrees W, 250 miles S.E. Of Bermuda. (Hey, we got all four directions in there!) I'm sure I don't have to tell you what all that means, the word “Bermuda” should give it all away. Hey, do I have to draw you a triangle?
We cut inside dad and step-mom's cabin. Dad apologizes for Aaron's behavior, but step-mom says that he's “young” and he'll “accept me when he's ready.” In a concession to the 70's bit she has this awful pink and purple headband on.
“Do you think he hates me?” asks Dad.
“Of course not,” step-mom says, putting the present on the window sill. “He's a little boy—who lost his mother. Parker [is this dad's name?], give it time, okay? Give him time. He'll come around.” Wow, this is quite a switch from the typical evil step-mom. And she even takes off her headband. And draws dad a triangle—er, I mean, draws dad closer to her, and as they kiss, electric piano music starts easing its way into the frame.
Then we cut back outside, to the boat in the storm. And I'm pretty sure this is all CGI—the boat cuts straight through the water, for example—but it's not badly done.
Back inside, the captain arrives on the bridge. A radar screen shows some kind of heavy mass, overlaying the top part of the screen—presumably, unless this is a very short movie, right where they're headed. There's some discussion about what it is (a squall? No) and the fact that it's headed for them. And then one guy says it looks like land. The captain says this is impossible.
He takes his binoculars and decides to look out the window at whatever this is. The “looks like land” guy (who has had all other dialogue other than the captain—how low was your budget, again?) says it's now 200 yards away.
We cut to an outside shot, and see the ship heading into what appears to be a very dense, and very electrical cloud. And everyone on the bridge sees these odd, clay-y looking clouds form, and boy do they panic. The captain calls for full reverse on the engines, but come on, it's 1972, that's not going to work. This is just the flashback!
Suddenly, the engine screws just go dead. Back with Dad and Step-Mom, who are hugging on the bed (1972, remember), and Step-Mom asks what's wrong as the electricity arcs across the sky and the ship shakes. Oh, nothing much, I suppose. Dad says he doesn't know.
Back at the bridge, the captain calls for “full ahead” but this still doesn't do any good.
Sure enough, the windows on the bridge burst inward (don't think I've seen a ship-in-trouble movie that didn't have that happen) and the cloud...crawls over the boat like an amoeba and envelopes it.
In the hallways, the passengers run around like idiots in a panic as the lights flash and the editor goes nuts with his shock cuts. In dad and step-mom's room, the crack between the doors lights up like the sun, and mist pours through the crack; a skull face is briefly seen in this mist, she screams off camera, and we cut to the outside to watch the last of the ship...which I guess was called the Corona, nobody ever said...being swallowed by the clouds. Fade to black.
And a title: “PRESENT DAY.” What did I tell you? It was all just a flashback! And you were all worried and stuff. No, no, you should have seen yourself! Ha ha, it was classic.
Fade in on a fishtank, and we pan over to a long-haired bearded guy with glasses, talking into a tape recorder about the Mary Celeste. He relates the story's details, which I won't repeat here (do a Google search) except to say it's one of the most famous sea mysteries ever. The Mary Celeste was found, completely deserted, but with no indication that she was abandoned. The passengers and crew were simply gone. (Some say Daleks did it, but you know, Daleks get blamed for a lot.)
As he tells the story, we see him go back and revise bits of it, and listen to playback, and generally give us the impression he's not just talking to himself, but is preparing this for a book or a magazine article or a manifesto or some damn thing. He tries several different phrasings and it's kind of entertaining watching Judd Nelson, for aye, it is he, going on an on. It almost sounds like he's trying to spark his own enthusiasm for a subject which has long grown cold, but won't properly die. Almost like he was Aaron, the little boy from before, all grown up! Oh hell, did I spoil it for you? Sorry.
Suddenly there's a dark figure framed in his doorway. “That's always bothered you, hasn't it?” asks the figure.
“I'm sorry, do I know you?” asks, um, Judd Nelson. Judd Nelson.
“The similarities between the two cases are remarkable,” says the Figure.
“What two cases,” asks Judd Nelson.
“The Mary Celeste, and the Corona Queen [ah HA!],” says the Figure.
“No, not really, the Corona Queen has never been found,” Judd Nelson points out.
“No,” the Figure agrees, “but we have to get on with our lives. Goodbye.” And Figure moves away.
Judd Nelson wants to know how Figure got in here and all that. He rises from his chair and goes to the door, but Figure is gone; instead, we have Wendy Robie popping out of the dark to say she was just on her way to see Judd Nelson. (If you remember Wendy at all, you probably remember her from Twin Peaks, where she had an eye patch.)
Judd Nelson asks if Wendy Robie saw anyone just now, and she says, no. Um hm, says Judd Nelson, then asks her into his office. (This whole area is lit very dark, by the way. Nice contrast with the 70's stuff, but it looks like everyone's working at midnight or something.)
Wendy Robie asks Judd Nelson, “Have you heard?”
“Uh, heard what?” Judd Nelson asks distractedly as he puts his tapes and stuff away.
“You really need to get out of the office more,” says Wendy Robie. Is that what she heard?
No, the sudden music tells us she means much, much more than this. I bet the similarities between the Mary Celeste and the Corona Queen just increased by one. Who's with me?
--I don't blame you. But it turns out I was right this time! A fishing boat has found the Corona Queen. It's been all over the news and everything, according to Wendy Robie.
Judd Nelson looks properly shocked at this turn of events.
He asks where, and is told (duh) that it's off Bermuda.
“Is there a storm brewing out there?” he asks. (Aside: In every movie set at sea that I've ever seen, there's always a storm brewing. And there's only one radio. Etc.)
Wendy Robie says sure there is, that's why no one's gone back out there to...uh, tow it in, I suppose. I guess the fishing boat avoided the Corona Queen because it had bad mojo, mon. Maybe.
Anyway, Judd Nelson reacts to this news, and Wendy Robie asks if he's sure he's okay.
“Yeah,” he says (repeatedly). “Sometimes I just hate being right.” Oh—tell me about it!
“You're talking about that 'triangle' theory,” says Wendy Robie. Judd Nelson nods yes at this. “Well, don't let Holstein get wind of it,” Wendy Robie goes on, “or he'll rake you over the coals, again. Remember last time?”
“Holstein is an idiot, with no imagination—he has no business running this institute,” Judd Nelson says.
“Maybe not,” says Wendy Robie. “But he brings in the funding. And you have to admit, some of your stuff is a little 'out there.'”
“[Wendy Robie], quantum physics aside,” says Judd Nelson, “we study psychic and paranormal phenomena...everything we do is a little bit 'out there.'”
“You really need to think about taking a vacation,” says Wendy Robie. Hey, how about a cruise! Ha ha ha.
And we cut to a broadcast of some kind of show, with a woman in a Southern accent saying that “then, my husband returned from the grave. You think something like that can't happen to you, but it can,” she says smugly. Hey, if I just visit a grave, it should be real easy to return from it!
...or did you mean, his own grave? Oh, now, that's just too spooky!
Well, we pull back from this, and see it is a tape being played for some producer types. Like the place where Judd Nelson was, this location is seriously underlit. Yeah, I suppose you could say it's because they're watching this video and don't want lights, you know, washing it out or something.
And as long as we're freeze-framed, let's point out that, from what we can see, our producer types are hot blonde chick and guy with serious sideburns (argh, we're back in 1972! Ha ha, just kidding.)
Anyway, Blonde Lady says that the footage is really bad, she can't show it to the network.
“Hey, you pick 'em, I just shoot 'em,” says Sideburns, but just then there's a knock on the wall.
A very tall brunette lady walks in and hands the two of them “the morning transcripts.” As they look them over, Brunette seems to be waiting for something.
Finally, she asks “Dana” (Blonde Lady) if she's still going on vacation next month. Dana says yup, and Brunette asks if she can have the “Bronzeville” assignment then.
Dana says she doesn't feel comfortable with that.
Fine, says Brunette, but she says she already ran it by “Kaplan” and this “Kaplan” thought it was “a really good idea.”
Well, both Dana and Sideburns perk up at this.
“...you don't think I went behind your back?” asks Brunette.
“No, no...no, it's...all right,” says Dana. But you can tell she doesn't think that stuff at all, and, in fact, thinks Brunette did go behind her back. But she says it's okay anyway. Then she suddenly spots something of interest. She tells “Julie” (Brunette) to get everything she can on the Bermuda Triangle, and the Corona Queen. And she tells Sideburns to get a film crew together, including infrared, time-lapse, etc.
Julie asks where the two of them are going, and when told they are “checking out a story,” she turns to the camera with a look. Or, perhaps I should say, A Look.
Sure enough, Dana is in her office, and some bald guy comes in to schmooze, then asks if she's “got a minute.” And she says sure. Oh, come on, “got a minute” is the worst thing you can hear! Well, other than “you're fired” and “the running time is an hour longer than the box says,” and “Mr. Spock personally hates you,” I mean.
Bald Guy says he's been talking to “the suits” about “ratings” and he mentions “new blood” and Dana's no fool.
“Julie,” she says. And Bald Guy says yep. Dana asks if she's too old now? And Bald Guy smoozes over this by lying a lot.
Now, personally, I as the viewer here, think Dana is Hot and Julie is way too dim to be Hot. And I'm not the president or anything, but I am the viewer here. Just making conversation, and stuff.
The gist of the conversation betwixt Dana and Bald Guy is that Julie is an up and comer, and Dana shouldn't fight this. And...
...well, then we cut to some rather obviously CGI rain outside an apartment, and we cut inside to some photos of Aaron and his Dad when times were good. Sure enough, it's Judd Nelson, looking through his scrapbook of bitter tears and memories of what might have been. I suppose I should just toss the other shoe and start calling him “Aaron” now, but I've typed Judd Nelson so many times I...don't think I can quit that easily. Judd Nelson Judd Nelson Judd Nelson. This may take some time.
Well, anyway, he's paging through his world of memories, and there's a knock on the door. It's Dana. She introduces herself, but he admits he's seen her show (“Journals of the Unexplained”) sometimes, though it kind of looks as though he's somewhat dismissive of the hard work she has put into this show, and the fact that her hard work has been for naught may be the same with Mr. Nelson! Wow, the double-packed irony.
After complementing her on her appearance (“Thank you, I think” she replies), “I think I know what you're here for,” Judd Nelson says, “would you like to come in?”
The door closes, and Dana says she is pressed for time, can she get to the point?
No, Judd Nelson says. Actually, he says “I'd like you to see something first,” but it's the same result.
He whips out his...scrapbook (thank you, Mel Brooks!) and shows a picture of Aaron when the tragedy of the Corona Queen was made manifest. He says he was eight years old then, and every couple of years since, someone has come to him for a “new angle.”
Dana acknowledges his misgivings, but says that this time there is a new angle, and she'd like an exclusive, blah blah.
“Yeah,” says Judd Nelson, “would this air before the two-headed alien baby, or after, 'I took a shower with Satan'?”
She points out that that was one of their highest rated shows (kind of funny, here's some points for that). Then she takes off her coat, and goes through that he must have already gone through a lot, “think of it, a young boy, saying goodbye to his parents, the Corona Queen disappears, and then, the ship returns...and you go aboard, to say your final goodbye.”
“Go aboard?” asks Judd Nelson.
“We're flying out to the ship in four hours,” Dana says. “Will you go?”
“I dunno,” says Judd Nelson. And Dana reveals that she has done her homework, re: Judd Nelson's interests in paranormal stuffs.
“We talk the same language,” she says.
“I don't think so,” says Judd Nelson. “I see the paranormal as a field of scientific study. You see it as a way of exploiting people's fears.” He also points out that his interest in the Triangle is purely personal, not part of the Institute's realm.
“You can't tell me that you're not intrigued,” she says, and he hems and haws a bit.
Ultimately, he says he doesn't feel comfortable with her exploiting his father's death for TV ratings. He tells her, thus, he's not going to go, but we know how these things turn out, don't we? Judd Nelson's name is first on the box, hint hint.
Anyway, she politely leaves, and gives him her phone number in case he changes his mind.
He stammers a bit. “You know...I was kind of expecting the hard sell,” he tells her.
“No, that's Dean Lawson, from Adventures in the Paranormal,” she says. “We're the good guys.” And she leaves.
And we cut back to the building that houses the production company, and Dana walks in just as Bald Guy is hugging Julie in the hall and she's thanking him for the big chance he has just bestowed upon her (so that's what they call it these days). Bald Guy, seeing Dana, reacts as if stung and becomes less, er, personable with Julie.
This is the most seriously underlit production company ever. All they have for lights are spotlights, which just happen to illuminate the action. This may be a clever way to hide inadequacies in the set, which is a good idea, but I just can't imagine anyone working in either this environment, or the one where Judd Nelson works.
Anyway, Julie walks off, and Bald Guy asks Dana how the story's going, etc, she says she has a helicopter and a couple of crew, it's all going great. Bald Guy flattens her enthusiasm with the “Uh, one thing...” that Julie is going with her.
She's pretty put out about this. He points out that she will need to get some experience if she's going to take over for Dana while Dana is on vacation. Dana wonders if this is just a vacation, or should she polish up her resume? Bald Guy asks if she's worried that Julie will get better ratings.
“What kind of ratings are we talking about,” asks Dana with just a tad of sarcasm.
He says it's just business, it's not personal.
She gives in, and hopes Julie is ready. And we cut back to Judd Nelson, lounging in his chair and sipping a brewski, while he's watching something on TV about oil workers. He slouches further into the chair and nods off. As the camera floats around the chair, he starts getting these rapid-flash, second-sight things of his dad, the present he scorned, stormy weather, scary dolls, demon people, rushing through the ship's hallways—all done in microseconds, like the similar stuff in (cough) Event Horizon.
The phone wakes him up, and he listens to warped monster type noises. Then he picks up Dana's phone number.
And now we're at the airport and it's still pouring rain, but...no matter, for there with an umbrella is Lance Henrikson, with his two crew-men. A van pulls up, and Dana, Julie and so-and-so, the cameraman (didn't catch his name—oh, it's Sideburns. Well, he's Cameraman now.) all pop out. Lance Henrikson is introduced as an owner of the cruise line that had the Corona Queen, hence his interest.
Lance is pretty hard-nosed until he sees Julie, then he's all smiles and shakes her hand. Lance, you letcher, you! Lance introduces his two crewmen as “this is him, and that's him.” They're both veterans of The X-Files, one played “Bear” in the episode “Ice” (about the worms that take people over) and the other played Cecil L'Ively in the episode “Fire” about the guy who could control fire. Both Fire and Ice...someone in the casting department had a good sense of humor or something. Cecil, of course, was last seen in these pages in Deep Shock.
Anyway, Dana gives Lance half the money for flying them all out to the wreck. Lance is apparently interested in salvaging the Corona. Soon, everyone is piling aboard, hauling equipment boxes and what-not. Lance Henrikson says it's time to go, Dana says, wait, there's one more person, Lance says the storm is getting worse, etc, etc.
And finally Judd Nelson drops out of a cab, ready to go. His terms are no melodrama or theatrics, and Dana says Okay. Judd Nelson says he is placing his trust in her.
And finally, everyone is airborn. Looks like CGI rain, and maybe a CGI copter as well. Not bad, though, nice smooth motion.
On board, it seems we continue the cinematic tradition of having people talk while on a noisy helicopter, but this time there's an excuse, as Judd Nelson and Lance Henrikson introduce one another (also it's a huge helicopter, so the passenger area is pretty quiet). Lance seems pretty friendly, even when (at the prompting of Lance's “you look familiar” line), Judd says his family sued Lance's company. Lance isn't mad, though, as he says that was before his time.
Lance asks Judd about his stuff, and Judd says it's stuff for detecting paranormal things, and he's generally not at all nice to Lance. Which is rather a shame, as Judd is the first person in the group to whom Lance has shown any interest (other than Julie).
And the helicopter moves on through the storm, the pilot complains about the amount of fuel, and back in the back, Ice and Fire are playing poker. They ask Cameraman if he wants to join in—he does—and they offer him their flasks. But he declines, saying he went sober three years ago. He asks the two of them what they think about the Bermuda Triangle.
Fire basically goes through a litany of genuine causes (storms, faulty navigation, bad equipment), finishing with “it's a big pond; people get lost.”
“Unless you believe the legend,” says Ice casually. Cameraman takes the bait.
Fire steps in: “Some people say, the Triangle is like a door to someplace else.”
“Sometimes the door opens one way, sometimes, the other,” Ice finishes.
“A door to where?” asks cameraman.
“Well, that's the question, innit?” says Fire. “Some people say, the door opens to the very bowels of Hell itself.”
Judd Nelson comments, “Well, there is some research that seems to substantiate that theory.” He pauses, and looks around. “Then again, it may just be a boatload of bulls**t.”
Just then, the copter hits a patch of turbulence and everyone's tossed around a bit. We get a very significant quick shot of Julie's purse falling to the ground, and disgorging...um, a stun gun? Even in freeze-frame it's hard to tell. (Turns out, yes, stun gun.)
The three continue with their card game.
And the helicopter finds the Corona Queen, and flies around it a bit. With the storm and all, it hides the CGI pretty well, though (aside from the copter and the rain) it almost looks like a still photograph.
And Ice gets into the lowering cage thing, and some bald black guy we've never seen before helps him in, and he's lowered to the ship. The film skips a bit to show us is Judd Nelson going down in the cage thing, and everyone is on the ship now, and the cage thing is brought back up, and Judd Nelson watches the helicopter depart, probably thinking this was a bad idea after all.
Meanwhile, Lance Henrikson and the others have gone to the bridge to see what kind of damage they're looking at. Hey, after thirty years, what damage could there be?
Well, there's the windows for starters. Lance throws his umbrella out through the smashed panes. Lance, don't litter! Julie starts filming with her camcorder, and asks what happened to the windows. Fire says it looks like they were “attacked,” and to the question “by what?” Ice answers with “pirates,” pointing out that there were a lot during the seventies, though they usually didn't attack cruise ships.
Fire counters with “terrorists” and Ice asks what happened to the bodies? Um, how about being tossed overboard?
Lance asks one of the “hims” to cover the windows, and suggests they use the crew's mess for headquarters.
Out in the hall, Judd Nelson stumbles in, and Dana starts camcordering him, narrating about the Corona Queen and the fate of his parents. Through the camcorder, she asks him how he's feeling.
He says he's wet, hungry and concerned that the helicopter flew off with one of his bags still aboard.
She lowers the camcorder, and says that she thought they had a deal. He says sure, sure, but he's not happy about how this is starting, and she counters with the fact that she has to get “into” his head. Which is not unreasonable, given that they have a returning ghost ship and a relative of one of its victims.
She says she's sorry, notes that it must be difficult for him to be here, and walks off. And then, as he goes to follow, we hear eerie noises, and the music does an undercurrent of menace. Judd turns and looks around, but dismisses whatever it is.
And we cut to the mess hall, and Lance is looking over blueprints, and the others are gathering their equipment. Cameraman goes over his various equipment. He and Judd compare stuff, and it turns out Judd's stuff is the new hotness.
Fire and Ice show up and say they've covered the windows, but most of the panels on the bridge are all rusted up. Lance notes that there's no rust or corrosion anywhere else, after 25 years at sea. Which a) seems damn remarkable and a bit spooky-like, and b) means this is taking place in 1997.
Then Lance gets down to business. He says that he's the captain, he's in charge, and he wants no arguments with his orders. First off, “Nobody goes off by themselves without telling others.” He also wants people to stay out of the passenger area, at first. “We don't want anybody hurt on this trip.”
seems to be the extent of his speech, but it's pretty remarkable that
safety, and not profit, is first and foremost with him. You have to
admit, that's pretty unusual. He then tosses the blueprints to Fire
and Ice and tells them to get the power going. He says they have 24
hours to get the ship towed by his company, or they lose it to the
Coast Guard. “Clock's ticking,” he says, and Fire, Ice
and Judd go down to find the power, while Dana wants some history on
the ship from Lance. He says he'll help her all he can, but the
And we cut to follow Fire, Ice and Judd (sounds like a business the Three Stooges would come up with) as they look for the generator room. Judd asks them about what their business is on the ship, and Fire mentions “the illegal kind” while Ice says that they're really not supposed to be here, but “money talks.” How they're breaking the law isn't exactly spelled out here, but one can assume that this is a set-up for when someone smashes the only working radio rather than call for help. Or so it would seem.
Anyway, with a worried close-up, Judd follows after the two “hims.” (All the while he's ghostbustering with his scanner.)
Well, they find the engine room, but Judd is picking up an unusual metaphasic variance in his flux capacitor, so he's going to wander to the source. Ice gives him a flashlight and warns him not to open any freezers. At Judd's question why, the guys point out that there's twenty-five years of dead food in them, sealed up. They relate a story about a “tuna boat” they found after five months abandoned, and the story is about how gross it is. So they all imagine that multiplying five months by, um, carry the one, hm, um...a lot, would mean the grossness quotient would be exponential. Double-yuck-o would be the layman's term.
So, with a cheery wave, Fire and Ice go to do their work, while Judd Nelson goes off to find...terror! He's poking along a corridor, and goes into a kitchen with a bunch of canned goods everywhere. And his ghostbuster thing is beeping like crazy. And he finds a whole box of severed heads! Oh, did I say severed heads? Sorry, sorry, I meant potatoes. Which are not rotten at all, but look pretty fresh. Fresh from Hell itself, ha ha ha!
He continues poking around, and the music is very ominous and stuff. And we cut back to Fire and Ice. They talk about how they don't think the generator will work, but Ice turns a switch, and everything turns on. This doesn't cheer them, though (perhaps they can hear the music on the soundtrack), and Fire says there's “definitely something going on here.”
And back with Judd Nelson, he finds the ghostbusterometer going crazy at the door to one cabin.
But we cut back to Dana, Julie and Lance, and Dana asks about the history of the ship. Lance, in full PR mode, says he'll try and then gives a pretty darn thorough history of the ship. But then he sees Judd at the cabin door, and he gets all mad, and Dana tells Cameraman to “cut it” and that they'll “pick it up later.” Naturally, as he lowers the camera, it pans across Dana's chest...total coincidence, I'm certain...
Lance goes up to berate Judd about wandering off by himself, Judd tries to explain himself (“I was just taking some readings”) but Lance is adamant that orders is orders. Just then, all the power comes on, including Latin muzak. (It's worth noting that this is the first well-lit interior OR exterior the film has had since the 1972 prologue.)
Lance congrats the two “hims” on getting the power on, and requests the muzak be turned off. After a bit of bickering, it's turned off. Cameraman is getting some weird readings on his sound setup, though. While Judd looks anxiously at the cabin he was at, the other three go off to find this odd squeaky sound. After a moment, Judd follows. The sound more resembles someone strumming a metal fence, or dealing wooden playing cards against a tin table, or maybe dragging chains. Viewer's choice.
The find the room and open the door, and it's the ship's playroom, or daycare play center...something decorated for kids. And the sound is coming from a rocking horse, moving by itself. Lance points out that since they're on water, things will move when the ship moves, so it isn't spooky at all.
“I don't think so,” says Judd. “That seems more like--”
And the rocking stops.
Cameraman thinks this is cool, he keeps shooting it. “More like what?” asks Dana.
“Like someone is riding it,” says Judd.
Then Julie pipes up, saying the room is “hot” with psychokinetic energy; Lance asks why this room, Judd says sometimes children are more susceptible. He then points out the drawings on the wall.
The drawings, apparently arranged chronologically, show happy boat activities until the last few, when we get dark spectres, bleeding passengers, and general indications of some sort of mayhem. “Something happened in here,” Judd Nelson says.
And the door takes this opportunity to slam loudly. And basically everyone's heart skips a beat or two.
Dana wants to get the “gear” in here, and Lance storms out, saying he doesn't “have time for this crap.” As he exits, we see the door across the hall, which is numbered 419. The door that Judd Nelson was at, half a corridor, was 418 (as near for both numbers as I can make out, of course). I think this is a sign that their sets weren't very large.
“This is what we came for,” says Dana.
And we cut back to the mess hall, where everyone but the “hims” has assembled. Lance is talking to the “hims” via walkie talkie about what still needs to be done, while the others are watching the playback of Lance's earlier talk about the history of the boat.
Just then, Judd spots something on the tape. He tells Dana to go back, and like an idiot, I hit the “back” button on the DVD remote. Judd Nelson, your personality is just too forceful! Cease bending me to your will, at once!
Anyway, what Judd spotted was a spectral child, riding the rocking horse.
Down in engineering, Fire and Ice are still trying to get the rest of the ship up and working. Ice says he's going to go down to a junction place of some kind. Fire bets he can get the whole place working before Ice even gets down there. Well, with the word “bet” both are galvanized (you'll remember the poker scene earlier). And they set off on their respective tasks.
Back up in the mess hall, Cameraman asks Judd if he's ever seen anything like “that,” and Judd says nope. He says that most of his work is “clinical” and that ghosts are a “side-interest.”
“Well, it's just that you seem awfully damn calm,” says Cameraman, who clearly isn't. “I mean, I feel...freaky. Like my stomach just dropped out.”
Judd points out that he, Cameraman, should be happy; that there are people who would “kill” for what Cameraman saw today.
“If we make it back with the footage,” says Cameraman.
“Yeah,” says Judd Nelson, and walks away.
Cameraman calls Dana on the radio, to say he's got one camera up and the rest should be ready shortly.
Dana acknowledges, and then has her own flashback of a sick relative, attended by priests and doctors (bits of choral music here).
And she starts walking down a corridor. There's ghost ambiance, heartbeat, and scary music aplenty, and the whole thing is in slow-motion. She approaches a smoke-filled room, lit with white-hot lights, and as she enters--
--she turns into a little girl, maybe twelve years old, but clearly Dana. She's walking into the sick room where the relative is. And she reaches out, and turns off the life-support system. The relative dies. And Dana is shocked back into the present, and she covers her mouth with her hands. “I am so sorry,” she sobs. (Well, nothing like Unresolved Issues to bring out the ghosts, eh? Still, it was very well done.)
Down in the junction-power-room place, Ice is looking over the equipment.
And back in the other engineering place, Fire is trying to get his stuff going (remember, the bet) and he opens up a big panel in the lower part of the wall. As he crouches, and sticks the upper half of his body into the opening, a figure passes in front of the camera. The music sting tells us this isn't Anyone We Know.
Back in the other place, Ice is also flipping switches (gotta win that bet!) and stuff. They call and taunt each other about the progress being made. And each continues messing with wires and switches and things of an electrical nature. While boasting to the other over their radios, of course.
Fire pushes himself further in amongst the wiring. And we cut to a water valve, of the kind you'd see on the side of your house if you owned a house, and it slowly starts turning on its own. Water begins pouring onto the floor...slowly moving toward Fire.
Ice says he's about to activate the main relays. Fire calls to tell him to “hold on” but his signal is broken up. Neither of them can communicate to the other, and the water finally reaches Fire.
Ice makes a rather personal remark about the radios, and throws the switch.
Fire is covered in electrical discharge and starts screaming. Sparks go off all around him. There are a few very quick cuts of his face burning up (sorry for you gore fans). Ice realizes something is wrong and runs back up to where he left Fire. Or back down...he runs down a staircase...at any rate, they're in different locales, okay?
Lance calls in to find out what's up, and Ice says something's happened to Fire. Lance replies that he's on his way.
They both get there at the same time, and if you gore fans will freeze-frame at just the right instant, you can see a fairly gruesome burned up, bloody skeleton. “The right instant” is the operating phrase here, as the camera does not linger at all, but pans up to Ice and Lance, looking pretty shocked and distressed. Oh, and there's a shot of what seems to be a burned-up naked bone, as Lance reaches down to grab a knapsack next to it.
And Lance checks to see if the money is okay. Which it is. Lance, you heartless creep!
Or not—the next scene shows him (and Ice) back in the mess hall, and he tosses the money in front of Dana, and says the deals off, “we gotta get off this ship, I tried to contact the Coast Guard but the radios are all out.”
“Wait a minute, you tried to reach the Coast Guard?” shouts Dana.
“Yes I did, there's a man dead on this ship, they're gonna want to interview everybody.”
“We are not supposed to be here, you know that,” says Dana. And this is news to everyone else.
There's a bit of arguing, and lots of finger-pointing, and Dana points out that Julie probably likes this a lot (being bad for Dana's career and all) but Lance sticks by his guns: he has lost a man and the safety of everyone else is paramount.
Can I hear a brass band? I mean, finally, finally we have a guy who by rights should want to hush everything up, smash the radio to keep it quiet, and so on, and he wants to do the right thing.
Let me repeat that: he wants to do the right thing.
Well, there's a lot of yelling until Ice (kind of drunk) stand up and shouts at everyone and says the deal is off, it's time to go.
And the phone rings. No, no, I'm serious! The phone rings. In the movie.
Lance takes charge and answers it. But then he hands it to Ice. “It's for you,” he says.
We hear basically nothing of the conversation—the phone voice is a more sinister version of the teacher in the Charlie Brown shows, and Ice just asks, “Where?” and “What?” before the line hangs up.
He tries to hang up the phone, but it just falls. “That was [Fire],” he says.
“What did he say?” asks Judd Nelson.
“What did he say,” orders Lance Henrikson.
“There's something we should see, up on the bridge,” Ice replies.
And we cut to them approaching the bridge. No one thinks this is a good idea, but Ice is going anyway (he and Fire were best pals and all) and they all follow him in.
And they see the radar screen, showing something massive and dense at the top of the screen, heading toward them. “Three, four hours tops” says Lance Henrikson, before it will be upon them.
“So [Fire] was trying to warn us,” says Ice. Everyone thinks this is plausible, but wonder, from what.
Lance orders Ice to get the radio working, tells the others to get packed up to leave, and asks Judd Nelson to come with him, “to get [Fire]'s body.” They leave as Ice tries to fix the radio...by turning it on. Oooookay....
Down below, Fire's body is missing. Judd Nelson asks if they were sure he was dead. Lance Henrikson gives The Look that only he can, and says, yes, he's sure. “Dead men don't just get up and walk away, do they.”
“And you're sure about that?” asks Judd.
“Come on, Judd Nelson, let's not talk in circles, you're supposed to be the expert in this, why don't you help me, here.”
Judd says that it was probably an accident, a horrible accident, but there are other possibilities. And he asks Lance how long he's been in this business.
“All my life, why?”
“Then you've heard stories about the Triangle, about the ships that come back,” says Judd.
“That's all horse[puckey]” says Lance.
Judd says a lot of things, the most important is his closer, “What we have seen today, defies explanation!”
“That's it, that's it, hold that thought, I've heard enough of this crap,” Lance mutters and walks away. So, he's not only stubborn where safety is concerned, he's stubborn about everything else. Remember, it's only a foolish consistency that's the hobgoblin of little minds.
“Stop!” calls out Judd Nelson. “Have you looked for the captain's log yet?”
“NO! “ yells Lance. “Why?”
“Find it,” says Judd.
“What for, what for!”
“I don't know, exactly, it's just a feeling,” says Judd. Geez, Judd, how about, it may have some clues as to what's happening? I mean, they all saw the kid on the rocking horse; stubbornness can be a virtue, Lance, but you're carrying it way too far without an ulterior motive. Unless you're just scared, which is as good an explanation as any.
Well, this conversation remains unresolved. And we next see Lance storming onto the bridge, being all mad at Ice. Ice, for his part, has fixed the radio and called the helicopter. But the helicopter says it will be four hours at best before he can get there.
Ice says they have a “situation” here, but helicopter says there's a hurricane heading toward the Corona Queen.
No one takes this as good news. And then the radio gives out again. Let me tell you, moods do not improve over this.
Ice asks if they got Fire's body. Lance says no, because the body's gone. He goes over to look at the radar screen, but Ice is pretty ticked off about this “no Fire body” thing, and he yells a lot at Lance, and Lance fires him. Ice laughs at this. Lance laughs at this too, and they exchange insults (it's the gift that keeps on giving) and Ice leaves the bridge.
And a shot of the radar screen shows that the Whatever-It-Is is a lot closer now.
Lance takes this as perhaps a good opportunity to check out that old “Captain's Log” theory that Judd Nelson had. Because, hey, maybe a good ghost story will calm his nerves.
Out in the hall, Judd is waving his ghostbusterometer around, and the signal starts really beepin', and of course the lights fail just about then. Me, I would call that two strikes.
And the movie winds up the pitch. It's looking at signals, checking the crowd. You know, it's a beautiful spring day here at motion picture field, and at bat, we have young Judd Nelson. He's got two strikes, this pitch will be the gold or the glory. Judd looks nervous, as well he might, and he watches the movie, checking, checking....he turns on his flashlight. The movie ramps up the spooky music. The flashlight is unreliable! Is that another strike, or a foul ball? The umpire is in conference...turns out it's a foul...so Judd is still in the game. And the movie throws the pitch--
--and it's Judd Nelson, now appearing in some other corridor, surrounded by monster noises, and before him is his father, sitting in a chair, while behind him are...well, they're rags, but they're supposed to be scary looking, and we'll give points on intent.
Judd Nelson's dad holds out the present, and there's an ominous noise, and Judd Nelson is suddenly back in the corridor he was in before.
He's still alive, so that would constitute a base hit, I suppose. I don't know much about baseball to be honest.
Anyway, Judd Nelson runs away the way he came, and we see hands (presumably those of Lance Henrikson) riffling through papers and folders and such in the (again, presumably) captain's quarters. He's examining everything, including what looks like a textbook (he flips through the pages, maybe thinking, Hey, he could have had time to have his log illustrated, bound and printed). Finally, he finds it. He frantically goes through the pages, until he finds a drawing (in red ink) of some kind of devil monster head, overlooking a sailing scene. (The image is only there for a fraction of a second, and even freeze-frame doesn't quite make it clear.) He looks suitably worried about this.
And we cut to Julie, typing away at something (actually, she's pushing switches on the video monitor, there's just a lot of them I guess. Cameraman shows up, they banter a bit, he goes close to turn something on, and she accuses him of drinking (you'll recall in the helicopter, Cameraman said he'd been sober three years).
Well, he says no I haven't, and she says yes you have, and this goes on far longer than you would expect with some alleged adults, but he finally admits that yes, he was drinking. And he pulls his bottle out and takes a big ol' swig.
Julie points out that the network paid for his rehab, but she says not to worry, it'll “be our little secret. On one condition.” In answer to his inquiries, Julie says Dana has screwed this project up, and it's gonna bite her, and all Cameraman has to do is back her up, and when Dana is fired and Julie takes over, Cameraman will be her cameraman.
Cameraman looks thoughtful for minute, and makes a hand gesture like, “Guess I got no choice,” but it's actually something else.
“Uh, hi, guys,” he says, waving at Dana and Judd Nelson in the doorway. So, now it's all out in the open. And Julie, acting about like we'd expect, decides she's going to go off on her own. Cameraman tries to stop her, but she gets him with the stun-gun. The others go to his aid, and Julie stalks off in a huff for parts unknown.
She passes Ice on her way into the bowels of the ship, and whips out her camcorder and starts dictating her story. She's got the camera right on her face, which is good for maximum star-power I suppose but it's not going to be a big renter at Blockbuster.
Back in the mess hall, Lance shows up and is briefed on the situ, and says that the helicopter is on the way, so they need to find Julie. He also says that there's a bigger problem.
He tells Ice and Judd to go search forward. (He also apologizes to Ice.) Lance will go down, er, backward or wherever the other part of the ship is.
Back to Julie, walking along with her camcorder (pointed at the action this time), and we hear spectral voices. She approaches a doorway. “Hello, who's there?” she calls out, but she goes through the doorway. (The sound work throughout this movie, from the music to the sound effects to the ambiance, is really great.)
She looks through the camcorder into a completely dark room, and on the camcorder screen is the image of...an office. Someone, on the little screen, walks through the doorway and approaches Julie. “Too bad about Dana...a real tragedy,” says some mousy girl to the camera. The camera follows this girl down the hall, which we now see is the television studio where they all work. And Bald Guy comes out of sound stage and greets Julie by name. “So glad to see you. You're on the air in ten minutes.”
“I am? What is all this?”
“What is all this?” Bald Guy repeats incredulously. “Julie, it's your show.”
“It is now.” He smiles broadly at her and hands her her “new contract. Now come on. We have to hurry.”
And the camera now follows Bald Guy through another doorway. “Make up!” he yells, and the mousy girl and another move forward with makeup stuff, and we cut to Julie sitting at her desk. Bald Guy tells her she was the one who always should have been hosting the show, and he takes her by the hand and leads her out of the office. Before they get too far, mousy girl approaches and says Julie has a phone call.
Bald Guy takes the phone, tells the caller that “someone will get back to you,” and hangs up. Then he points her to the hostess seat for the show. And he repeats how she should have been hosting the show from the beginning. “Now,” he says, and gets this very creepy, unblinking expression on his face, and he shoves a clipboard at her, “sign your contract.”
She takes the contract, and Bald Guy's pen, and signs the contract.
“Good,” he says, pulling back. “Now...it's showtime.” He steps back further, near a huge camera. “You're rolling in five...four...three...” We move in on Julie's smiling close-up--
--and suddenly we're back in the dark recesses of the lower decks; a bulkhead door slams shut, and we hear a scream. Out on the ocean, the scream echoes around the ship.
Cut to Ice and Judd, looking for Julie and calling out to her. Lance is doing the same. We follow them both in parallel for a while as they move through the corridors and down stairwells.
Finally, Ice stops, and Judd behind him asks what's wrong.
“There's someone up there,” says Ice. He moves forward quickly, and Judd can't keep up. In a doorway, he sees Fire, who smiles at him. Ice moves to follow, into a room with a lot of chains. (Watch out for Cenobites, they bite.)
Just before Judd gets to the room where Ice is, the door slams and locks, keeping him out. And a huge chain (I assume used by the anchors) begins to spool out onto the floor. Judd Nelson begins throwing himself against the door in an attempt to break it open (it's the most animated I've seen Judd all evening). Ice kind of stands there, watching the chain pile up. For some reason, instead of moving backwards into the room behind him, Ice tries to run through to the door, and in so doing, gets knocked down by a length of chain. The rest of the chain continues to fall on him, covering him.
Judd runs and gets a fire ax, and breaks the window and opens the door. Ice is beginning to spit up blood. Judd asks what he can do, and Ice manages to tell him about the “kill switch” and where it is. He finds something that looks likely, pulls it, and something huge and heavy with rope attached falls right onto Ice's face. Blood goes everywhere.
Uh, Judd, I don't think that's what Ice meant by a “kill switch,” but you meant well I'm sure.
He runs to see how Ice is, and slips and falls in the blood. He sees what's what, and is not the happiest of campers.
Back in the mess hall, Lance puts a camcorder on the table. “This is all I found,” he says. “What about Julie?” asks Cameraman.
“This is all I found,” Lance emphasizes.
Judd Nelson shows up, blood all over his hands. He grabs some napkins.
“Where's [Ice]?” asks Lance. Judd tells him the story. “Someone raised the anchor,” Lance muses.
“No one raised the anchor,” says Cameraman, “don't you get it? This ship is killing us off one by one!”
Judd asks about Julie, Cameraman says they just found the camera, so she's probably dead too. He starts going off the deep end, and Lance orders him to shut up, and even pulls a knife on him.
“Don't make me cut your [expletive] tongue out,” Lance threatens. Cameraman calms down.
Lance turns to Judd. “Go on,” he says.
“[Fire] was right. A lot of my research points to the fact that the Triangle is some sort of doorway, or portal.”
“To where?” asks Dana.
“To somewhere else. Hell, another dimension...a place where we don't belong. The place that this ship went to when it disappeared.”
“But it came back, didn't it,” says Lance. He goes to get the captain's log and opens it on the table. He asks Judd to help him understand some of the entries. He starts with one in May. “I don't know what this place is,” he reads. “We have no radio, no navigation. I have no control over the ship. They have slaughtered most of the crew and passengers, and the rest have simply vanished. The children were the last to go,” he finishes, thumping his finger on the page. “I read that twenty times,” he says.
He takes up the log again: “Something is coming for me...I can hear it outside the door.”
Cameraman thinks it's a bit vague, all this “they” stuff and Lance says he doesn't have details.
“There's something else,” Judd says, preparing I'm sure to bring everyone down hard. “The ship, it was on the other side for a long time.” Everyone kind of looks at him like, And--? (Cameraman actually says it.) “Do you know what a capacitor is?”
“Of course,” says Lance.
“I think that the Corona Queen,” Judd says, “has somehow, become a capacitor—storing energy from the other side.”
“You mean, like Evil,” says Lance, looking like he's got a big headache right about now that isn't getting better.
“We can call it whatever we want, but there is an intelligence here,” Judd says, “and it's an intelligence that has been locked on the other side for a very long time, so now, we can no longer trust what we see or what we hear. The ship is playing on our fears, it is creating things for us to see. Now, one way or another we have to get off this ship, and away from that line on the radar.”
Cameraman is pretty thoroughly spooked. “Yeah, what is that thing, it is a storm, or what?”
“Maybe the physical boundaries between our world...and another. Maybe the physical boundaries of the triangle itself.”
Cameraman basically gives the Hudson speech, “That's it, man, game over, game over!” laced with more colorful metaphors. Dana tries to snap him out of it. She says they have to get the tapes. He has a rude suggestion for the tapes, repeating that they have to get off the ship. Well, no one's arguing with that.
Most everyone but Dana agrees with Cameraman (Judd is silent, though) but Lance agrees that she can go get the tapes, and “we'll all meet on deck. If the chopper's there we fly, if it's not, we get in the boats.”
Judd pops out into the hallway. “There's something I gotta do,” he says. I'm sure they have a restroom on the helicopter, Judd! “Now, you don't leave without me!” he insists.
Dana sends Cameraman to the “playroom” (where the rocking horse was) while she'll get the stuff in the mess hall. He goes to the playroom. Oh, I hate to say it, Cameraman, but it was nice knowing you. I mean, there's no way this can end in a good way for him, yes, no, maybe, perhaps, yes?
We close in on Lance—he's got an interesting face full of character, so closeups on him are cool—and he starts singing something to himself while he goes to the bridge. And he looks offscreen, and his eyes bulge open. And we see the radar screen, and the big dark area is closing in fast.
Elsewhere, Judd goes into room 418, where his ghostbusterometer went crazy earlier, and where, no doubt, his parents were stationed lo those many years ago. He pokes around and finds a wallet, and looks inside. We don't get to see the name or picture on the driver's license.
We cut to Cameraman in the playroom, being anxious. A quick cut of Dana gathering things, while the monitor nearby is showing the cameras in the playroom.
Then we're back to Judd, and he finds the present that he tossed aside twenty-five years ago. He opens it, and it's a very nice looking pocket knife, in a wooden case.
Dana sits and sees the playroom monitors. “What the hell is he doing?” she asks of no one.
In the playroom, Cameraman decides to take a big ol' swig from his bottle. Bad move, as a smiling white face appears on one of the monitors he's standing next to. He sees the face. Of course, he turns around and there's nothing there. He attributes this to equipment malfunction, and starts whacking on it. He drops something, and bends to pick it up, and the face reappears. He whips around again, and there's nothing there.
Now, me, I would have been out of there while beating the known top speed for human runners.
He just says a personal remark about the situation. And when he turns to look at the door, there's Someone there. He drops his bottle onto the floor, then assumes that what he's looking at is Julie. He asks where she's been.
In the mess hall, Dana happens to see him, and calls on the walkie talkie to see who he's talking to.
The figure moves closer to Cameraman, and we see that it is Julie...and, it isn't. She does...something, with her head and her arms, Cameraman pops out an expletive, and the monitor in the mess hall goes to static. Dana rushes out of the room.
In the playroom, “Julie” continues to wave her arms around Cameraman, and his face gets cracked and pitted. She does one final wave, and he explodes into dust.
Outside, the helicopter is approaching the Corona Queen. Inside, both Dana and Judd reach the playroom, but no sign of anyone is apparent. Dana calls Lance, who says the chopper is on its way. The chopper calls and says there's too much wind, he doesn't want to get caught in the rigging, the three have to move aft. Since they repeated the conversation, I figure I might as well too.
We have a quick shot of the ominous clouds expanding, then...the rain is gone. A shot overhead shows the clouds pulling back to the horizon, where the wall of dark clouds waits. Then, suddenly, there's a roiling mass of brightly lit clouds, that hurl themselves at the Corona Queen. This solidifies (pretty impressively, I might add) into the solid looking black clouds we saw way at the beginning.
And then...well, it saddens me to report that the reach of the CGI and special effects people exceeded their grasp. What we have are little flying animated people, who are humanoid from the waist up, but tails of light from the waste down. They...look, I'm really sorry guys, honestly. But these creatures don't look at all real, or believable...or menacing for that matter. What they look like most is a whole flock of Tinkerbells. And they fly all around the ship, through the air, looking like they're really anxious to grant a few wishes or something.
Now, we see one of them, and it's a kind of scary ghoul-thing, with red glowing eyes and a skull like face, and it's wearing...a track suit, or something rather 70's looking. So aside from the suit, it looks...er, okay. It looks okay. C +, fellas, can't do better, sorry.
It turns, and sees Lance Henrikson, and flies right at him, then surges through him.
He drops his walkie talkie and looks like, well, like someone who just had a ghost hurl through him, and says “Ohhh...baby.” He collapses on deck.
Judd Nelson springs forward to try and help, and also grab the walkie-talkie, and just then, Julie The Ghoul floats up over the railing. She sort of looks at everyone, then sucks Lance's soul out of his body (I'm guessing) and flies off. Judd and Dana quickly make their way aft.
Judd contacts the chopper. “Corona Queen to chopper!”
Chopper: “What the hell is going on?”
Judd: “Do not leave without us!”
Dana steps forward and...falls, though a rotten place in the floor. Judd calls after her, then says he'll be down to help her.
Down in this room, Dana sees the woman from her earlier flashback, who shudders and groans. “Mom?” Dana says, and moves toward her. Um, excuse me, but, er, Bad Idea.
Judd is going through the corridors to get to her. He grabs a rope, and lowers it through the hole. He calls to her, unaware of the mother-daughter meeting below. Getting no response, he throws the whole rope down the hole. Hey, that's not a good plan, Judd.
Below, Dana says she never meant to hurt her mother, but couldn't stand to see her in such pain. Mom, well, basically groans and shivers like, er, a zombie, really. Dana goes to embrace her.
Judd decides that if the rope isn't enough, he'll just throw his whole damn self down the hole, and he does, just in time to see this ghoul face over Dana's shoulder. Oddly enough, while clearly a ghoul, the face doesn't look malevolent, and when Judd reaches Dana, it's just her there. She confesses to killing her mother.
“What you're seeing is not real,” Judd says, and then he gets animated again. “Dana! Snap out of it! We've gotta go!” She snaps out of it, grabs the tapes she dropped, and they start heading back to the deck.
The pass through the kitchen area again, and strung up everywhere are corpses in various stages of rot and decay. “Oh my God, what is this,” Dana says, while Judd hurries her along.
They run along a corridor, and behind them, the shiny clean corridor rapidly becomes rusted and decrepit. They come to a door, but some zombie ghosts burst through it, so they figure to find a better way. They rush through more corridors. They go down some staircases, further into the plumbing as it were, past giant pipes and ever closer quarters. They finally make it to a deck, and call desperately to the chopper to lower the basket (the basket they came to the ship in, if you'll recall.)
Up above, a hatchway opens in the bottom of the helicopter, and the basket begins to descend. They both jump into the basket when it reaches the deck, all the while the ghost things are flying around, but, well, they kind of look like they're flying because it's a fun time to be had, and not because they're interested in eating souls. Just from this observer's vantage point, naturally.
And the basket is brought on board, as the Corona Queen vanishes back into the clouds, becoming rusty and decrepit as she disappears. And the hatchway closes.
The helicopter flies off into the rising sun, as the cloud begins to collapse in on itself. And we fade to black.
And we fade in on Dana, carrying a big box full of stuff, walking though the TV station building. (They still need more lights, here.) She meets Bald Guy, also carrying a big cardboard box full of stuff.
“Well, well, well,” he says. “Congratulations. You got the story of the century.”
“I don't know if it was worth the deaths of five people,” she counters.
“Yeah, well, welcome to television,” he says ruefully.
And he moves on, and she continues to an office marked “Dana Elway, Producer.” So, I guess she got Bald Guy's job? Who knows? Who among us can really fathom the world that is television, in all its myriad ways?
And cut to Judd Nelson, lounging in his chair. He's listening to the tape he made at the beginning, where he was talking about the Mary Celeste, only he's listening to the voice of the man who interrupted him. The camera moves in as he replays the conversation. Only this time, there's a difference—the last line of the mysterious man in the shadows is, “But we have to get on with our lives. Goodbye, son.” Judd replays this bit, over and over.
And there's a knock at the door. It's Dana, asking about how Judd's doing. He says he's doing fine, doing fine. She says she's fine, fine as well. “It's been an interesting couple of days,” she says. “Let's just say, I'm through carrying guilt for something that wasn't my fault.” She looks at him. “You ready?”
“Ready?” he asks, slightly taken aback.
He gets this hangdog look. “I forgot, didn't I.”
“Mr. Roberts [Judd Nelson's character name, I think], you have a lot to learn about dealing with women.” Pause. “Food is critical.” Pause. “I know a great Chinese place about two blocks from here.”
“Chinese is great,” he says. “Let me just get my coat.”
As he does, the phone rings. He looks...off, at the sound of it.
“You need to get that?” she asks.
“Uh...we'll let the machine pick it up,” he says, and strides to the door. They leave, and the answering machine picks up. There's a kind of muffled roar, and the camera swoops into the phone, through the circuit boards, through the wires, into a bright light, and then into the dark, solid, threatening clouds, still building over the waves of the Bermuda Triangle.
And roll credits.
“Chinook and Hero Wraiths by Deneven Imageworks” Uh...what?
They used Newtek Lightwave and Adobe PhotoShop here, and Adobe AfterEffects.
AT&T Broadband gets a Special Thanks, as do lots of family members.
You know, I don't mind telling you, this is a pretty good movie. I enjoyed this a lot, gobs of atmosphere, good, solid storytelling, characters who are believable and behave creditably, all the elements presented and parlayed...good stuff.
It's really refreshing to see characters behave in believable ways; even though they are putting themselves into dangers, they don't know that. And Lance Henrikson wanting to get everyone safely off, to heck with the money, is just something I never expected. I just love the fact that everything that happens has been set up, and pretty effortlessly.
The sound and atmosphere are first rate throughout. In fact, almost all the technical aspects are great.
The worst aspect was the little flying ghost people. CGI is hard to do right, and easy to do wrong. And there seems to be a pervasive belief that CGI can fix a number of ills, which I don't believe myself. These creatures looked like something from a bad video game, and I was frustrated because I couldn't shake the feeling I was supposed to shoot them and rack up points. (Now there's something every DVD remote control needs: a firing button.)
This film also shows the virtues of using good, solid actors, and, even better, casting your roles to fit. There are several scenes where Lance Henrikson's character could be seen as craven, cowardly or weak, but because it's Lance Fricken Henrikson, he comes across as just as strong-willed and world-weary as ever.
The main downside, aside from those ghost people, is that this is a very familiar movie. You probably saw it a few years back when it was called Event Horizon. Then, it was set on a spaceship but the plot was basically the same: a vessel gone for decades is suddenly back, folks board it to try and salvage it, and it destroys them one by one. Here, to give the film its due, the story seems far more organic and focused, and less like a skeleton on which to hang some showpiece scenes. Lost Voyage gives us Judd Nelson, as a guy who is understandably both fascinated and frightened of this stuff; his distance toward everyone comes from the fact that he's here reluctantly. Event Horizon gave us Sam Neill, who's a wonderful actor, but that film had him bouncing back and forth between hero, depressed suffering man, and evil incarnate. It was rather difficult to get a fix on who he was, and how we should regard him. Event Horizon had the bigger budget, but Lost Voyage used what it had with admirable economy. Also, and points for this, Lost Voyage had a good ending.
This was my introduction to the work of director Christian McIntire, and I originally intended it to be a short review; but the sheer care he invests in his storytelling made a big impression on me. It's not perfect by any means, but he seems to want to make sure that the loose ends are at least acknowledged, if not wrapped up. This is a refreshing contrast to many film-makers, who simply want to trot out beloved or convenient cliches, to skip over inconvenient lacunae, and to concentrate on what's rad and kewl, and what will most impress the reviewers and/or get the job done cheaply.
--October 27, 2004