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The Ferryman


The Ferryman
cast: John Rhys-Davies, Kerry Fox, Tamer Hassan, Amber Sainsbury, and Sally Stockwell

director: Chris Graham

97 minutes (18) 2007
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Revolver DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by James A. Stewart
In many ancient cultures there are myths and legends aplenty, one of the most famous is the Greek story regaling the tale of how souls are transported across the River Styx to Hades by a ferryman. This myth purported the tradition of leaving a coin in the mouth of the dead to pay for the crossing. The Ferryman takes this legend, fuses it with the best bit of films such as Fallen and The Fog and yet still comes up frustratingly short in respect to the end product. The question is why?

To begin with, some of the acting is plain wooden and the dialogue excruciating. In addition, the gore is misplaced at times, with kills off-screen proving somewhat disappointing. The first 40-minutes go by like a snail out for a stroll. Director Chris Graham spends this time giving us the backstory for the killer's potential victims; but most of it is needless. The Ferryman could be a great movie; instead it is just average.

That's the bad points out of the way... The concept is excellent if not entirely original. Six people are on a boat crossing from New Zealand to Fiji and come across a derelict looking vessel on which there is but one passenger. The spirit of an eons-dead man who escaped from the mythical ferryman has possessed said passenger. The spirit has to move from body to body in order to escape the ferryman - however, unlike Azazel in Denzel Washington's Fallen, he gratuitously murders those he possessed previously.

For a low-budget movie the cast are quite effective. Welshman, John Rhys-Davies - probably most famous in sci-fi circles as Professor Maximilian Arturo from Sliders is a standout as the Greek despite his relatively short screen time. Another British actor, Tamer Hassan (Layer Cake, Spivs) puts in a sound performance and, despite this being a New Zealand produced film, they make no attempt to dilute Hassan's accent. Ben Fransham plays the eponymous role in the film but, in many ways, the screen time afforded to the ghoul is rather short and misused.

Yep, The Ferryman could have given us a lot more, but does work on many levels. It is a film that fans of the genre will enjoy but still feel a bit cheated on. The ending is clever and makes it a film worth sticking with for this alone. However, one major gripe is the signposting of the bad guy, it does take away some of the suspense and you'll know what I mean when you watch it.

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