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13 Ghosts (2001)
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Review Date: October 26, 2001
Director: Steve Beck
Writer: Neal Stevens, Richard D'Ovidio
Producers: Gilbert Adler, Dan Cracchiolo
Actors:
Tony Shalhoub as Arthur
Shannon Elizabeth as Kathy
Matthew Lillard as Rafkin
Plot:
A broke family of father, daughter and son, are surprised to find that their late eccentric uncle, has left them a very valuable house. While visiting the glass home, they quickly come to realize that there are otherworldly spirits residing there as well...spirits who don't want them around. Zaniness ensues...
Critique:
Too frantic, too busy, this flick starts off with a somewhat interesting premise but ultimately gets lost in its own maze of quick cuts, ghostly gobbledygook and Matthew Lillard being Matthew Lillard. Credit poor Tony Shalhoub for playing his character straight the whole way, and for giving us an ounce of someone to care about, but discredit the writers for taking the easy "love conquers all" route out of this thing. I also could've done without the obligatory black character as the comic relief (can someone please tell me why a family in such major debt would hire a nanny in the first place?) and the super-annoying kid, who was apparently training to be Matthew Lillard in the future. The movie also ends in one of the most ridiculous ways, with one of the characters essentially dismantling an extremely technologically advanced machine, simply by pulling a few levers and pushing some buttons. C'mon!!

But I will give out props where they are due and that's with the ghosts themselves, who were pretty damn scary (anyone interested in a walking torso?) In fact, if you were as zoinked out by the weirdos from Marilyn Manson's "Beautiful People" video as I was, you will definitely crap your pants for these fellas, because they are creepy-looking, bloody and all-out disgusting...all the ideal qualities that you look for in a ghost! The problem is that even though their initial integration to the film is done with style and decent shock value, the "joke" gets stale after about five minutes, and all you're left with are too many jump-cuts, edits galore and barely enough information to register to your little brain as the pictures fly by at 1000mph. Granted, the otherworldly apparitions do offer the needed jolt every now and then, and the movie does move at a swift pace, but when all you get are jolt after jolt, you kinda start tuning out of the story after a while. Oh yeah, and the story, you ask? Well, like I said earlier, it started off with some promise, but once things got going inside the house, it felt very repetitive and ultimately down-shifted into just plain stupid.

I don't think this film is as horrible as some people say, and it certainly provided for some original kills (too bad that lawyer just had to split), but in the end, the film fails because it doesn't develop any real characters, beyond Shalhoub, goes for the over-the-top mumbo-jumbo dialogue to explain the basis of its story and offers too much flash and not enough substance. But if you want to be "grossed out" during Halloween, sit and watch a zillion flashes of light and listen to thundering sounds crawl their way through your body (without meaning much, of course), this MTV-style remake of the 1960 Castle classic, might just be the bloody mix for you.
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian
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