Before They Were Gods: Emily Browning’s Passage On ‘Ghost Ship’

american gods emily browning ghost ship

For American Gods fans, it’s a very “plus/minus” time that’s a little tough to reconcile. On the plus side, they feel great knowing that Starz renewed the series for a second season; but on the minus side, they find themselves stuck knee-deep in the long haul that is…The Wait Between Seasons! So what’s a faithful fan to do? Sure, you could re-read Neil Gaiman‘s award-winning novel again or get your series-rewatch count up into the teens because that’s what any fan would do, right? But you’re not just any fan…right?

american gods emily browning ghost ship

Then you’ve come to the right place, folks! Because like each and every one of you, I’m waiting for American Gods to come back, too: first, because I’m a fan of the show; and second, because it’s a little tough to do episode recaps when there aren’t any episodes. So to pass the time, I’m going to post some things during the down time about the show and the people connected with it that might just make your socks roll up ‘n’ down. Think of it this way: if nothing else, you’ll have some great geek-fact “pipe bombs” to drop during that next Gods debate.

american gods emily browning ghost ship

So who better to start with then the amazing Emily Browning, American Gods‘ very-own living-dead girl, Laura Moon? Browning has had an impressive acting career with projects such as A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Uninvited and Legend highlighting her filmography. For me, it was her role as Babydoll in Zack Snyder‘s righteously underrated Sucker Punch that elevated her in my mind acting-wise. It’s safe to say that if you’ve seen her on American Gods, then you know that she’s ripe for acting award nominations and (one would hope) a truckload of script offers outside her door.

american gods emily browning ghost ship

But sometimes? You take the project because you need the experience. You take the project because you owe someone a favor. You take the project because the bills won’t pay themselves. No judgments. I say that so there’s no confusion that this is done out of love and with the intent to “laugh with” and not “laugh at” in every way possible.

So, with that said? I present to you…2002’s Ghost Ship.

I’m going to leave it up to my friends at Wikipedia to give you a chunk of the movie’s synopsis, so you know who Browning’s playing:

“In May 1962, aboard the Italian ocean liner SS Antonia Graza, dozens of wealthy passengers dance to the song ‘Senza Fine’ sung by Francesca, an Italian singer. A young girl, Katie Harwood, sits alone until the ship’s captain offers to dance with her. Elsewhere, a hand presses a lever that unravels a thin wire cord from a spool. The spool snaps and the wire whips across the dance floor, bisecting the dancers.”

american gods emily browning ghost ship

Spoiler? Browning is that young girl, Katie Harwood. Second spoiler? Katie doesn’t really stay dead. Which now that I think about it, seems to be a semi-reoccurring theme in her work. Hmmm…

american gods emily browning ghost ship

Anyway…the cast itself was pretty solid. Besides Browning, you had Gabriel Byrne, Julianna Margulies, Ron Eldard, Desmond Harrington, Isaiah Washington, Karl Urban, Alex Dimitriades and Francesca Rettondini. But it was bad. Really bad. A horror movie with no horror; a thriller with no thrills. The script had holes big enough to run an ocean liner through and shoddy effects that reminded me of the first season of Buffy. And the dialogue? Here’s an example of how dialogue can be used poorly to try to force-feed the audience a whole bunch of backstory in a short period of time:

Murphy (Byrne):

“Only in my dreams. Christ, she’s beautiful. These Italian liners, you know, they couldn’t compete for speed, so they built these floating art palaces instead. She was reported missing on the 21st May 1962 off the coast of Labrador. Funny thing is, there was no distress signal, no contact. She just disappeared. She was gone. So ever since that day every captain and his mother has been looking for her, hoping she hasn’t gone down. Do you know what this means?”

american gods emily browning ghost ship

But is it worth seeing? Absolutely! It’s a fun movie to pull a MST3K on with friends, and Browning’s performance already showed a promise of things to come in the middle of all that mess. Definitely an instance that proves the adage that I might be making up now that I think about it: there are no crappy actors…only crappy movies.

Don’t believe me? Check-out this opening sequence from the film. I mean, when it comes to giving you the backstory you need moving forward Ghost Ship gives you both barrels and doesn’t feel the need to waste time on subtlety…save for Browning’s presence. She helps keep the scene grounded in some sense of emotional reality and saves the entire thing from spiraling towards Monty Python/”It’s just a flesh wound” absurdity. A true sign of a genuine actor…

But after that opening? Ghost Ship goes the Full Metal Jacket route to the nth degree by pulling a 180 and takes a serious nose-dive in quality so feel free to fast-forward to Browning’s parts. Because as much of an enjoyable mess as Ghost Ship is? Sometimes the numbers don’t lie…

emily browning

About Ray Flook

Proudly serving as TV Editor, Ray started with Bleeding Cool in 2013 as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought aboard as staff in 2017. Counting John Cusack as his pop culture "spirit animal," his "word fu" stays strong as he continues trying really hard to be the sheppard...

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