Horror movies today are not scary. They are usually gore-fests, replacing blood, guts and violence for true chills. What is sad is that most so-called horror movies will not admit this. Well, 13 Ghosts wallows in the fact that it is trash, throwing in all of the above plus some nudity and self-deprecation. This does not work, mostly because the plot collapses under its own ponderous weight about two-thirds of the way through the movie. 13 Ghosts turns into the typical horror movie, with all its characters making stupid decisions while the monsters chase them. This is a remake of the 1960 movie of the same name, and marks the second, gore-infested, scare free horror remake for Dark Castle Entertainment, after The House on Haunted Hill. 13 Ghosts also takes place in a house that's haunted, but this house is different. It belonged to rich eccentric Cyrus Kriticos (F. Murray Abraham, Finding Forrester, The Darkling).
Upon Cyrus' death, he willed the house to his nephew Arthur (Tony Shaloub, Spy Kids, Galaxy Quest), a down-on-his-luck math professor. Arthur, his daughter Kathy (Shannon Elizabeth, American Pie 2, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back), son Bobby (Alec Roberts, Traffic), and housekeeper (and token black person) Maggie (Rah Digga, Carmen: A Hip Hopera) are ecstatic, because they get to move from their lowly apartment into a luxurious mansion. The mansion is full of glass mirrors etched with Latin. The center contains a large circular mosaic on the floor. Everything seems to be going well until Dennis Rafkin (Matthew Lillard, Summer Catch, Love's Labour's Lost) appears. Rafkin claims that Cyrus owes him money. From the intense prologue, the viewer knows that Rafkin has some sort of psychic power. He does not want the Kriticos to go into the basement. It seems that the house is actually a machine. Cyrus trapped ghosts in the basement, which is not a problem until something lets them loose, and Bobby goes missing. Rafkin is the only person who knows why the ghosts were trapped, but he remains tight-lipped.
The walls in the house begin shifting, and nobody can find a way out. The house is actually more of a machine than a house. So now, there are people trapped in a house with ghosts who are none-too-happy. The only way the humans can see the ghosts are with special glasses. The house itself looks fantastic. It looks more like a museum than a house. Director Steve Beck also does a good job with the basement, and the looks of the various ghosts. They all look suitably demented (one pulls spikes from his body), but aside from a quick rundown of their names, they are all as anonymous as the living people. The only people with any semblance of personality are Digga (only because she has some unfunny comebacks and comments) and Lillard, who trades his usual joviality for intensity.
Everything else about the story turns into a jumbled mess. Neal Marshall Stevens, Richard D'Ovidio (Exit Wounds) and Robb White (The House on Haunted Hill, Savages), writer of the original, concoct a tangled plot involving Cyrus and the reasons why he needs the ghosts. It makes sense for a while, then quickly turns confusing. And there is really no way to untangle it. 13 Ghosts changes to a slasher flick, with homicidal ghosts chasing the humans around the mansions. The people run and scream, and that's all that happens. By the end, it feels less like a movie and more like a collection of violent images.
|Haro Rates It: Not That Good.|
|1 hour, 31 minutes, Rated R for horror violence/gore, nudity, and some language.|
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