Reviewed by Evil Andy
Starring John Rhys-Davies, Kerry Fox, Sally Stockwell, Amber Sainsbury
Directed by Chris Graham
The Ferryman would make a great stage play. Most of the story is driven forward solely on the strength of the performances and it takes place almost exclusively in a single location; a yacht. As the skipper, Big Dave says early on “It ain’t the love boat”, But we know this is no pleasure cruise from the very opening shots when we’re introduced to The Greek, played by John Rys-Davies hacking a man to pieces yelling, “I’ll never pay!” while throwing body parts to the sea. This is not your granny’s cruise ship.
Before we meet the Greek again we’re introduced to a gaggle of sun seeking vacationers who’ve chartered the burly Big Dave and his take-no-shit wife, Suze, on their boat for a lazy sail to Fiji. Zane, the capable Maori hero, and his wife Kathy are hoping to spend some time relaxing and mentally recovering from a recent tragedy. In stark contrast to the calm certainty of Zane and Kathy’s relationship is Chris, who is constantly embarrassed by his American girlfriend Tate, whose spoiled behavior has him re-thinking the engagement ring in his pocket.
The film takes a long time establishing these characters and if it weren’t for the natural charm of the performers, the setup would be pretty damn boring. The biggest scene stealer is the whiny American Tate, played by Sally Stockwell, who channels a middle class, middle aged Paris Hilton in her cringeworthy first half performance. She also provides the most maniacal last act interpretation, but more on that later.
Things take a turn for the worse when the crew decides to home in on an SOS call, where they find The Greek, stranded, and barely alive. They bring him aboard their boat and it’s not long before The Greek’s ancient, ornate knife is buried into one of the tourist’s chests. Though it’s never explained, the knife gives those wielding it the power to swap bodies with anyone they stab. The Greek’s time has long since passed but he refused to pay the Ferryman and has been body jumping for millennia to avoid death.
At this point, the film takes on an almost anthology feel, as each of the characters get their chance to interpret John Rhys-Davies as The Greek. Rather than all going for the same “Salla, but mean” angle that Rhys-Davies imparts to the role, each actor seems to relish their chance to explore different aspects of the character. While they all seem to be sex obsessed perverts hellbent on getting (or being!) a piece of tail, each actor’s take is slightly different, ranging from sadistic to wise-cracking to downright crazy.
The Ferryman starts off almost as a drama, spends much of its running time engaged in sadistic sketch comedy, culminates as a monster movie, and has an EC Comics coda that you likely won’t see coming. If you’re sick of horror sailing under the banner of remakes and reimaginings, take a trip with The Ferryman; a film that reimagines 2500 year old classical myth, rather than the slasher films of the 1980’s.
3 1/2 out of 3
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