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The Ending Of Ghost Ship Explained

2002's "Ghost Ship" is a spooky horror flick that, while not a classic, is most remembered today for its terrifying opening scene, which sees a slew of rich people killed in an unforgettably unique fashion that must be seen to be believed. Looking back, though, "Ghost Ship" also offers a truly nail-biting climax, as well, where salvager Maureen Epps (Juliana Marguiles) is the last woman standing on a derelict and haunted cruise ship. 

The story begins with Epps and the crew of the salvage tugboat Arctic Warrior approached by a Canadian weather service pilot named Jack Ferriman (Desmond Harrington). He shares with them that he discovered a mysterious vessel floating about — a vessel which is fair game for anyone to lay a claim to. For the crew, the potential for profit is too great to pass up, and lured in by the promise of easy money, they soon finds themselves marooned on the Antonia Graza (the eponymous ghost ship), fighting for their lives.

This being a horror movie, things don't go well. By the film's end, Epps is the sole survivor of the crew, having been the only one able to resist the many temptations aboard the vessel. Because the ship isn't merely haunted by ghosts, but overseen by a powerful demon on a mission from Hell, who is determined to bring out the worst in people. The twist: that demon is revealed to have been Ferriman. And while Epps is able to defeat him and destroy the ship, the ending scene undercuts the heroism with a brutal wake-up call.

Ghost Ship brings out the worst in people

Ferriman tells Epps that they're not so different: while she salvages ships, he salvages souls. He tempts them with their desires — for instance, his action of luring the crew of the Arctic Warrior with the promise of gold on the ship to ensure they'll be trapped, as he sabotages their ship, thereby ensuring that they'll all be trapped on the Antonia Graza. He reveals he killed one half of the crew and passengers, then corrupted the other half, and set them on each other in a frenzy of carnage. Now their souls are bound to the Graza, and anyone he corrupts is similarly marked. One by one Epps' crew mates succumbs to the temptations of the ship, but she throws a wrench into Ferriman's plans by not only refusing to be corrupted, but destroying the ship in an act of heroic self-sacrifice.

Epps is rescued by a passing cruise ship and taken to shore, where she's placed in an ambulance for a trip to the hospital. Her relaxation is disturbed when she sees the boxes of gold being loaded onto the cruise ship by members of the crew — the exact same boxes that she had encountered on the Antonia Graza. 

As the last of the crates are loaded, the familiar figure of Jack Ferriman passes by the ambulance doors. Epps screams, because she realizes the cycle is about to begin again.

In Ghost Ship, demon work is a business

Ferriman stands as a unique example of a horror movie villain: unlike Jason Voorhees or Freddy Krueger, Ferriman doesn't have a burning drive to torment his victims or punish them for some perceived slights. He's simply there to place temptation before his prey and watch them hang themselves. 

Ferriman uses the gold to tempt the avaricious members of both the Graza and Warrior's respective crews, and if that doesn't work he'll use other sins (gluttony or lust, for instance) to corrupt his prey and then strike, killing them and adding them to his quota of souls. In his confession to Epps, he's shockingly matter of fact about the whole matter, making it clear that to him, this is simply a matter of business — albeit, Hellish business — rather than pleasure. The torments he has inflicted on the spirits on the ship, and on Epps and her crew mates, are just part of his job.

While Epps does successfully manage to thwart his plans for the Graza, it's clear from his appearance in the aftermath that his demonic superiors have set Ferriman on another "salvaging" job, one that will likely lead to the exact same outcome as the poor Antonia Graza. In "Ghost Ship," the business of evil is temptation, and business is always booming.