Haunting of the Queen Mary Review

Arrow in the Head reviews the horror film Haunting of the Queen Mary, directed by Gary Shore and starring Alice Eve

PLOT: Stories playing out in modern day and on Halloween night 1938 show how the haunting of the Queen Mary ocean liner has a devastating effect on two different families.

REVIEW: The RMS Queen Mary is a ship with a fascinating history. It was built in the 1930s to provide weekly express service between England and the United States – and for more than a decade it held the Blue Riband for being the fastest passenger liner on the sea. During World War II, it became a troopship that carried Allied soldiers. When the war ended, it went back to carrying civilian passengers until it was retired in 1967 and docked in Long Beach, California. For more than fifty years, it has sat in Long Beach, a tourist attraction. As you would expect from something with such an incredible history, the ship is believed to be haunted. Sometimes the reasons given for this haunting are questionable (there’s talk of familicide taking place on board, but it doesn’t seem to have actually happened), while others are based in real-life tragedy (during the war, the ship accidentally sank an escort ship, resulting in 239 deaths). Now, with the film Haunting of the Queen Mary, director Gary Shore – who also crafted the screenplay with Stephen Oliver and Tom Vaughan – has taken on the monumental task of living up to decades of legends.

You can tell Shore wanted to honor the legends as much as possible within the frame of his feature film. Not only does the film have a running time of 125 minutes, but it also tells connected stories that take place at two separate times: Halloween 1938, in the early days of the Queen Mary’s passenger liner era, and in modern day, when the ship is a docked tourist attraction that’s said to be haunted. In addition to this, we get an aside about the many celebrities that spent time on the ship, see a news report about the ship being docked in ‘67, and are told about the World War II-era accident. Shore made sure to pack a whole lot of information into this movie, even though it sometimes feels disruptive.

In ‘38, we follow the Ratch family – Wil Coban and Nell Hudson as David and Gwen, Florrie Wilkinson as their daughter Jackie – as they sneak into a party and cross paths with the likes of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, aiming to make Jackie a movie star. In modern day, we follow another family – Alice Eve and Joel Fry as the troubled Anne and Patrick, Lenny Rush as their son Lukas – as they visit the Queen Mary with big ideas of writing a book about the ship and maybe making it possible for people not in Long Beach to take virtual tours. Unfortunately, dreams don’t come true for these families. Multiple murders take place on the ship in ‘38, committed by a father who primarily uses an axe, because you have to stick to the tradition of axe-wielding fathers that was established by The Amityville Horror and The Shining. In modern day, something happens to Lukas during a tour, and Anne and Patrick return to the ship later to figure out exactly what’s going on there. It’s not a pleasant time for them.

Neither set of parents are particularly appealing people, it’s difficult to get invested in their stories. The only characters in the film that I really came to care about were the kids. Lukas and Jackie. Rush gives a very engaging performance during his time in the movie, and it’s a shame that he’s largely removed from the film relatively early in the running time. Wilkinson’s Jackie is a fun character who even gets to participate in an extended dance sequence with Fred Astaire, played here by Wesley Alfvin. But the roles the kids play in the story are overshadowed by the adult characters, who are a real drag.

As it makes its way through its overly long 125 minutes, Haunting of the Queen Mary starts to drag as well. Despite telling two stories, there’s not enough substance to sustain that much time and the movie really would have worked better if it were closer to 90 minutes than 120. The way the stories are told can also cause some frustration, jumping back and forth between ‘38 and modern day while also presenting information in a non-linear fashion within the different time periods. Making it more difficult to track all the necessary information is the fact that this is an obnoxiously loud movie, with music and sound effects sometimes drowning out the dialogue, which will already be tough for some viewers to decipher due to thick accents and/or muffled sounds (for example, the David character speaks his lines through a mask). Those viewers will benefit from watching the movie in a format that has subtitles, which the screener I watched wasn’t equipped with.

Haunting of the Queen Mary

On a positive note, I did appreciate how the titular haunting was handled. Some movies try to pass off their hauntings with creepy sounds and doors opening by themselves. Shore makes the haunting more intense here. The characters are in physical danger from these ghosts – whether it be because they might get possessed and possibly turned into murderers, or if the ghosts will just flat-out try to kill them. There’s a sequence I really enjoyed that involved a ghost arm reaching through the screen of a cell phone to strangle someone. That’s the kind of haunting I like to see – and the idea reminded me of something you’d see Bruce Campbell have to deal with in an Evil Dead movie or TV episode.

Haunting of the Queen Mary is interesting and has some good moments, it’s just too long and has some off-putting editing and sound design choices. It’s worth checking out, but you might find that it has worn out its welcome by the time the end credits start to roll.

Haunting of the Queen Mary receives a VOD and limited theatrical release on August 18th.

Arrow in the Head reviews the horror film Haunting of the Queen Mary, directed by Gary Shore and starring Alice Eve

The Queen Mary



Source: Arrow in the Head

About the Author

Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of JoBlo.com, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he's a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.