(NOTE: I originally planned to cap the film in a more complete way, but I got fed up trying to get good shots because 90% of the film is pitch frigging dark. So you're basically getting the good Jamie shots, with occasional bonus Kerry. I doubt anyone will take me to task for that. ;) )
Title: Ghost Rig (aka The Devil's Tattoo)
Release Date: July 2003 (US, DVD); September 2003 (UK)
Availability: On DVD
Synopsis: Ghost Rig is ostensibly a horror film. It's got problems. Problem #1, it's just not that scary. Problem #2, the script is utilitarian at best and ham-fisted at worst. And Problem #3, it does not end with Jamie Bamber and Kerry Norton destroying a demonic entity, exploding an oil rig in a shower of flames and schrapnel, kissing passionately and then sailing to safety with enormous shit-eating grins of "YEAAAH, EAT THAT, EVIL!" plastered across their faces. Ah, well, if you're going to appear in a tepid horror movie, a) make sure you get to play the most sympathetic characters, and b) remember, it's easier not to regret it in the long run if you gain a spouse in the process. Love = 1, bad career moves = 0.
Worth Watching? Despite its pervasive mediocrity, I'd say yes; it's a rare chance to see Jamie and Kerry act together (they didn't have many scenes together, if any, on BSG) and there are actually one or two pretty decent moments.
Does he live or die? I'm going to be mean and make you read the recap to find out, but consider this - horror movie characters have the deck stacked against them to begin with, and given poor Jamie's track record of surviving on screen, make of that what you will. ;)
A helicopter lands on a battered oil rig scheduled to be toppled just off the coast of Scotland. Inside are a group of Greenpeace-esque crusaders who have come to seize control of the rig - acting as human shields to prevent them from sinking it - in a show of anti-corporate, pro-environmental strength. Little do they know the "horrors" that await... (And the movie's called Ghost Rig, which isn't entirely accurate either - it's not a ghost, the original title The Devil's Tattoo was more appropriate, sorta - but suffice to say the "horrors" have little to do with actual horrors like, oh I don't know, underwater plumes and globs of oil washing up on shore and choking off wildlife. That'd be really scary, wouldn't it? :P )
Most of the crew are pretty gung ho and subsequently rather irritating; leader Vincent and his sour-faced girl Friday, Iona, in particular are fairly begging for death from the minute they open their mouths. Others aren't so bad, though: there's Crawford who used to work on the rig, is in a wheelchair and seems to be a bit more gentle and rational. There's Annie (Kerry), who seems focused on the mission but not at all bossy or full of herself like the others. And there's Tom (Jamie), who sort of just seems along for the ride which couldn't possibly mean he's got an alternative agenda or anything. Right? Plus, he's kind of dreamy so no one minds him just hanging around. Yet.
Maintenence crew they were expecting to meet are nowhere to be found. They disperse and start to explore the rig, and through a series of darkly lit jump cuts and "ooh, spooky!" music cues, it quickly becomes apparent that "something" is on the rig with them. It first presents itself in the form of a rat (?!) who bites Eric, the big guy, and this initiates the spread of OMFG EVIL which will gradually infect most of the crew. (Interesting side note: Eric is played by Scottish actor Rory McCann, who's been in a bunch of other much better stuff but most notably played Michael Armstrong aka Lurch, the inbred goon in Hot Fuzz. When I realized it was him, I let out a big "YARRRRP!" and had a good, hard giggle. I'd recommend this, it takes your mind off the WTF for a moment or two.) Anyway, he suffocates one of the others. I can't remember which one, a few of them are quite... samey.
But then Samey #1 walks into the lounge right behind Tom. Uh, WHUT?! The crew continue to plot. Vincent re-records their mission statement. Tom's manning the camera and he looks foxy in headphones. Crawford finds Eric's body, they presume that he died of a heart attack and are pretty willing to just stick him on a slab and move on... except for Tom, who thinks it'd be pretty stupid to continue when one of them is dead and suggests they call back the chopper. Because he's awesome, and beautiful, and CLEARLY should be in charge. (Annie seems reluctant to speak up at this point, but we're pretty sure she agrees. On all counts. ;) )
While Vincent reveals to the rest that he's been withholding information from them about a possible quarantine on the rig (Way to earn your crew's trust, dumbass!), Tom takes the initiative and sneaks into the radio room... but he's not hailing the chopper. He's contacting his handlers and reporting on the status of the mission because OMFG, HE'S AN ARMY DOUBLE AGENT. Badass. (Honestly, I'm pretty liberal, it's not likely you'll ever hear me cheering on the military complex to crush the hopes and dreams of green-loving environmentalists, but in this case... hell yeah, shut these idiots DOWN, sexy soldier boy!) The radio signal's dodgy, though, and the others spot Tom on the CCTV and stop him before he can get the word out. As if we didn't hate her enough already, Iona punches him in the groin. Tom entreats her to get her nose out of Vincent's arse for one second, which as though we didn't love him enough already, makes him full of 100% WIN. (And earns him another gut-punch. Ouch.)
Vincent - who thinks having a murder on board will be great for media attention, making him the biggest douchebag EVER - broke up the melee by firing a gun, which means Annie and Crawford are now pissed at him for breaking their agreement of no weapons on the mission. And more likely to side with Tom as the shit continues to hit the fan, though they're also angry at him for deceiving them. (Which Tom does feel bad about. He apologizes to Annie in particular. Aww, she's pretty huh, soldier boy? ;) ) Most of them assume that Tom killed Eric, but he insists he's innocent and he and Crawford have a little heart-to-heart about their military experiences. While Tom is tied up. Everyone with bondage kinks, enjoy it while it lasts because Samey #1 is suddenly smashing the radio and Tom gets Crawford to let him loose to stop it.
They find Samey #1's body, everyone still thinks Tom's guilty (even Annie now, who saw him loose before they found the corpse). They bicker. They roll their eyes at each other. It's a little monotonous... okay, a LOT monotonous. Through all this, Tom is still the most rational, figuring the quarantine/virus rumor is bullshit and something much different is going on. They study the bodies in the morgue and Tom takes his sweater off, because he knows that to get through the rest of this movie we really need to see his lovely arms in that red t-shirt. At some point, Samey #1 got to Samey #2, who later goes all Jack Torrance with an ax while Annie tries to hide (One of the few truly effective creepy bits, actually.)
And then Tom finds Samey #2 gnawing on his girlfriend, Medic With Braids, and it's pretty gnarly, especially when her wound heals in seconds and she gets the Token Demonic Voice™ which would be a lot creepier if it wasn't so cliché. She shouts for help to pin the death on Tom before escaping, the rest come running and Tom gets arsey Vincent in a headlock which is RAD. Annie diffuses the situation with a camcorder she pulled out of a locked room, and they decide it might offer clues.
The remaining crew watch the video in the lounge; it seems to indicate some evil entity began taking over the rig's crew one by one, leaving one dude to record and leave behind a warning. Oh, and the weird chalk circle with candles around it in the loading bay will somehow protect them. Maybe. It's not very well explained. Tom fully steps up and takes charge (woo!) and he and Annie try radioing for help again (And right about here is where I start longing for the two of them to be in a much better stranded-at-sea thriller. Can you imagine them with proper roles, like Bud & Lindsay Brigman in The Abyss? Sassing each other and falling in love again? They'd ROCK IT. Oh, Bamber/Norton/Griffiths. ♥ This punk-ass movie doesn't deserve you.) Anyway, meanwhile, Vincent and Iona are still idiots and they take off to get PWNED by Medic With Braids' not-dead-yet corpse.
Worried about their chances at sea, Team Sensible decide to find the Really Useful Book of Dispelling Evil that the video mentioned, left behind in the Creepy Chalk Circle. It's pinned under a big anvil (or something) hung by a chain, which means Tom gets to flex his guns lifting it. (I'd be lying if I didn't say that's my favorite shot in the movie, too.) Vincent and Iona both show up each claiming the other's possessed, and they force them to do a little hokey-pokey dance in and out of the circle to prove they're OK, during which Iona stabs Vincent in the back (about half an hour too late for my taste) and warns them it's a matter of time till she gets them all. Told you, someone should have thrown her overboard LONG ago.
Team Sensible tries to devise yet another plan, Iona is spying on them via a headset she left running in the radio room, and I'm getting really sick of trying to screencap a movie so darkly and badly lit. (I'm all for realism, I'm sure it's supposed to be dark, but COME ON!) Tom continues to rule and realizes that Iona's listening, so he lies that he managed to contact his handlers and help is on the way; meanwhile, he and the rest forage for life vests and weapons. Crawford insists he's a liability and they should leave him behind, but Tom's having none of it because he's way too heroic for that shit. You might be inclined to think his awesomeness will get eventually him into trouble in a situation this frakked up. *ahem* Anyway, Annie and Mole (the bald, paranoid one that I should have mentioned earlier... OH WELL) get separated and Iona gets to one of them, but Tom and Crawford aren't sure who when they return. (We know. Hint: It's not the pretty one.)
Now unsure who to trust, Tom strikes a badass pose with his makeshift Lord of the Flies spears and insists that the only way to find out is to cut each of them; whoever heals is the Demon Seed. Crawford sees Mole tapping his fingers and realizes he's infected (how he knows that's the giveaway, we aren't told...) and he tells Annie he'll fake cutting her because he knows she's alright. She agrees. Tom cuts Mole. They wait. He demands to see Annie's cut, and she protests insisting Crawford told her he didn't have to. Confusion ensues. Including us, because when did Crawford start acting like such a dick?! We thought he was COOL, man!...
And now, I pause to throw the rest of the recap behind a white text... just in case any of you might actually want to watch this sucker and not have the ending spoiled. Mouse over & highlight the gap below to read it. (There's a twist, though it's kind of lame but hey, beggars can't be choosers sometimes):
[start spoiler] Turns out Crawford is eeeevil - he used to work on the rig, remember? And presumably he WANTS to be infected because he maniuplates Tom into stabbing Annie out of fear (NOOOO! Actually, I'd love to hear the conversation Jamie and Kerry have with their girls some day - "Yes, Daddy and I made a film where he brutally murdered me. It was such a relief, we couldn't wait to get off that set and go on a proper date!" XD) Demon Mole stabs Tom, who hangs in there long enough to watch Crawford tempt Mole to come closer and let him be possessed... when Tom tries to protest, Crawford pulls out Vincent's gun and shoots him. Oh, soldier boy... we had so much faith in you. *sob* And then Crawford gets possessed again and leaves the rig in a lifeboat... presumably because he wanted the use of his legs back, he walks onto shore in the last shot. I don't know, even if I were a paraplegic that's kind of a last resort, I'd hold out for a miracle surgery before making a pact with the Devil. But that's just me. [end spoiler]
I can't say Ghost Rig is first rate entertainment, kiddies, but at the very least Jamie and Kerry acquit themselves admirably despite the circumstances, and they're both adorable. And now married with three beautiful children, so evil (whether in the form of demonic possession or "meh" movies) still got a boot in the ass in the end. HA! If you can't find a rental there are a few hundred 99 cent copies available on Half.com most of the time. And if you have DirecTV, it turns up on Chiller once in a while, so you might as well set the DVR.
And now, BONUS PRETTY, because I love you all just that much ;)