Cast: Mr Monk, that one girl from American Pie, Shaggy, and a sassy black lady
Synopsis: A down-and-out family inherits a mansion from their strange and eccentric Oscar winning uncle. Problem is that the mansion is full of ghosts. Guess how many ghosts there are.
I think that it’s a rite of passage for every actor to do a bad horror movie. It doesn’t matter how good they are or how many awards they have, a cheesy horror movie should feature on every actor’s filmography. By ‘cheesy horror movie’ I mean ones like 13 Ghosts i.e. ones that have stupid plots, boobs, and characters who are nothing more than thinly veiled stereotypes. There’s just something so satisfying about these kinds of horror movies. You’re not required to think. You can simply sit back and enjoy the sheer crapiness of the film. I applaud any actor who has the balls to appear in this sort of film….I assume it’s out of choice, of course, and not just desperation for a pay cheque.
So, objectively speaking, what is good about this movie? To be honest, not a lot. F Murray Abraham (yes, THAT F Murray Abraham….the one with an Oscar who starred in Blood Monkey) plays a ghost hunter who catches ghosts and traps them in this weirdly beautiful clock-work house. OK, that’s one good thing about this movie: the set design and production. I would love to live in this house….assuming it was ghost free of course. Anyway, Tony Shalhoub (aka Mr Monk) and his family inherit the house and shit goes down with the ghosts. Matthew Lilard also appears as a psychic ghost hunter. Based on that summary alone, you should be able to tell that this is not a great movie.
Having said that, this film is a lot of fun because of all its flaws. It’s the sort of film you can watch with friends, take the piss out of and quote along to (“Is that half the lawyer?”). I’m sure there’s a drinking game you could play while watching this film. I don’t know what it would include but probably something along the lines of “drink every time the family’s black maid does something vaguely stereotypical” or “drink every time there is a sickly-sweet and mawkish family love-in.” Either way, 13 Ghosts feels like a communal film so pop it on if you’re with friends who love horror films too.
The trouble with this film, if I were to name just one thing, is that it rushes a very good premise. I love these sort of haunted house stories but it’s hard to do something like 13 Ghosts justice in a 90 minute time frame. I wish someone would come along and turn this film into a TV series. It would be a great idea. That way, each of the ghosts could be developed in full and the tension could be drawn out over the course of about 12 episodes or so. I noticed on Netflix that a TV series of From Dusk Till Dawn just started. It was pretty dull. A TV series based on this film would have been a much better idea. Anyone at Netflix want to commission me to write a TV series? I need money and writing credits!
- Excellent set design. It’s stylish and claustrophobic at the same time. I kind of want to live in the house what with all its beautiful antiques.
- “Fetch the book!” It just got all Hocus Pocus up in here!
- Sassy, if somewhat inappropriate, black maid.
- Award-winning cast…..lol
- Too rushed. Not all the ghosts get an adequate amount of screen time.
- Appalling dialogue.
On the whole, 13 Ghosts is a pretty mediocre horror film but, under the right conditions, it can be a lot of fun. When I watched it I was in the mood for a trashy ghost story and it definitely satisfied my craving. It’s in no way as deeply terrifying as Rosmary’s Baby or The Exorcist are but it provides some laughs and some cheap thrills. Fortunately, it’s on Netflix so you don’t even need to spend any money to watch it. What’s to lose?