I have enjoyed limited movie offerings from New Zealand, with the likes of the romantic comedy Sione's Wedding and horror comedy Black Sheep, and for my horror double bill this weekend, I wouldn't have wanted to miss The Ferryman.
In western folklore, the Ferryman is the one responsible for transporting the dead to the nether realms, where souls would be judged (so you'd better start chalking up those brownie points). Ferrymen had been depicted in movies before, be they just a background character like in Woody Allen's Scoop, or becoming a point of contention in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies with crew of The Flying Dutchman. Think of it as the equivalent to the Chinese folklore characters of "Cow Head" and "Horse Face", where they will visit the body at the point of deaths to escort the soul to the depths of Hell for judgement.
2 couples (two of whom are Craig Hall and Amber Sainsbury whom we will get to see again in 30 Days of Night, in which Ben Fransham who plays The Ferryman will also appear) signs up for an adventure sail from New Zealand to Fiji, where a luxurious spa awaits their tired bodies after their "homestay on the sea" stint. Before everyone, including the captain his wife and their pet dog, can get chummy with one another, their ship receives a distress signal, and the laws of the sea dictates they get themselves into unknown trouble by picking up a survivor from a non-working vessel. And like all hitchhiker styled movies, there's always something strange about the hitcher (played by John Rhys-Davis) you pick up, especially when the weather's all foggy and he starts to give everyone the creeps.
The Ferryman turned out to be a rather interesting concept movie rather than outright horror with shock and awe moments. It doesn't scare, nor does it follow the recent trends in gore and with torture porn. What it's more akin to is a good old fashioned thriller with supernatural elements thrown in for good measure. Some might complain that nothing much really happens, with the usual hack and slash, but I'd argue that it had a very novel take on the theme of longevity, especially when it starts to play out in full. While it certainly isn't something new, the way it was executed (pardon the pun) mattered, and its ending will undoubtedly leave a wicked smile on your face, at what had transpired, and the loads of potential should you possess such capability.
Not without loopholes though, but I thought it could be glossed over given its supernatural slant, unless you choose to harp on it, especially when it didn't get developed properly. In short, The Ferryman still qualifies for an entertaining afternoon matinee when ticket prices are cheaper.