Well, here we have a curiosity - as Sony brings Thi13en Ghosts to Blu ray. I mean, seriously - what is that title all about? How do you pronounce it? It doesn't even make sense! At least in that regard it provides a useful metaphor for the film itself.
Thir13en Ghosts is a remake of a “classic” William Castle B Movie from 1960. The plot involves Cyrus (F Murray Abraham) a recently deceased ghost hunter who leaves his house to his nephew Arthur (Tony Shalhoub). Arthur is given this information by a strange creepy lawyer, using a strange creepy laptop to give a weird message from beyond the grave that he now owns a creepy weird house. Most sensible people at this time would call the estate agents in with instruction to auction - but not Arthur. He's a widower, you see, and is down on his luck. He is also looking after his children Kathy, and Bobby so they move in along with Nanny Maggie (Rah Digga).
It doesn't take long for them to realise that the house has a mind of its own, and what follows is a race against time as the new owners enlist ghost hunters Kalina (Embeth Davidtz) and Rafkin (Matthew Lillard) to help solve the mystery of the house or face certain death.
So far, so formulaic - but we do get a stunning beginning as director Steve Beck provides us with a very impressive opening credits sequence. Sadly, Mr. Beck (a graduate of ILM) soon sets about proving that he is all about visual flair and very little about story development. The visual flair is certainly there in abundance, from the aforementioned beginning, to the use of audacious camera angles and movements. But unfortunately, he makes no effort to give any interest to his characters or sense to his plot.
What we are left with is a “by the numbers” film which uses techniques you will have seen a thousand times before. The ghosts are derivative, the characters are derivative, and the plot is most certainly about as subtle as an arrow through the forehead.
On top of this we have the perfomances which really are quite universally poor. What we have is a very generic movie, and a cast that simply cannot be bothered. The script, to be fair, doesn't give them that much to do - even resorting to clichéd insults from the token black girl who talks like the worst stereotype you can imagine.
Once they get into the house the option is there for some genuine tension. After all, the idea of being trapped inside a house which is haunted is prime scare fare. There is plenty that can be done with the premise. Unfortunately, what the film degenerates into is a loud, confusing mess as characters seem to endlessly, aimlessly run around avoiding the ghosts and trying to kill them. No tension, no scares, no character development. You know those scenes in Doctor Who where the Doctor and his companion are running down corridors? The whole of this film seems like that.
So, are there any redeeming features here? Well, truth be told - very little. If you are prepared to turn your brain off, and you don't expect high art you may get some enjoyment out of this. And the make-up effects are clever too. But at the end of the day, you watch a film like this to be scared and frightened. That is highly unlikely to happen with this film. And that is a shame.
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