This film is so easily summed up (one can imagine the pitch): Stephen King’s Christine (one of my favourite books, growing up) out on the ocean. A fisherman, ‘the sailor’ (Joe Azzopardi) gets lost in dense fog, his small boat literally bumping into a luxury yacht in the murk. The fisherman calls out but nobody responds, and after tying his boat alongside, he explores the vessel and discovers the yacht is abandoned. Mystified, he moves to return to his own boat but finds it has become untethered and drifting away in the current, trapping him on the yacht. Convinced someone must be onboard after all (how else to explain his knots becoming undone), he sets on another search but again, he finds no-one. But he’s not alone.
Strange accidents and occurrences happen and it becomes clear that this yacht is a bitch (like Christine) or a bastard (like the truck in Duel) out to kill its unwelcome new crewman. Yep, the yacht is possessed; its presumably killed its previous occupants and the fisherman is next. The fog clears and, marooned on the yacht he tries to commandeer it and head for shore (wherever it is, as he realises he is lost out in the ocean and the radio doesn’t work).
Its a simple idea and at times a very involving character piece, but it struggles to maintain its premise for the length of a movie, labouring its concept (a section of the film with him locked in a toilet cubicle inside the hold of the ship is more interminable than it is tense). I did like the film though. Its really haunted (sic) by too much familiarity to other books and films, but it certainly feels like it could be a great Stephen King novel that he has yet to write. I felt a little cheated that our lonely hero doesn’t find an old logbook which might possibly explain the mystery a little (which itself might have formed a flashback to help fill the running time, but that’s possibly where budgetary issues raise their head).
Stephen King didn’t just show how bad Christine was, he explained it, or at least suggested an explanation- The Boat leaves its evil yacht a mystery; call me a cynic, but I rather suspect this was a deliberate move by the film-makers to leave room for a prequel or sequel. How very post-Millennium.