Thir13en Ghosts (2001) Movie Review
Written By: VB
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Steve Beck
Producers: Robert Zemeckis, Joel Silver, Gilbert Adler
Writers: Neal Marshall Stevens, Richard D’Ovidio
Story By: Robb White
Date Released: October 26, 2001
Tony Shalhoub as Arthur Kriticos
Embeth Davitz as Kalina Oretzia
Matthew Lillard as Dennis Rafkin
Shannon Elizabeth as Kathy Kriticos
Alec Roberts as Bobby Kriticos
F. Murray Abraham as Cyrus Kriticos
Rah Digga as Maggie Bess
Rating = 2.5 /5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
Arthur Kriticos is a kindhearted yet lonely family man. Devastated by the death of his wife from a home fire a few months ago, he hasn’t been the same since. He’s been struggling to keep it together for his two kids, all while adjusting to the dire financial situation they are in. Their lives suddenly changed when they were visited by the lawyer of Arthur’s dead uncle Cyrus Kriticos. Since Cyrus has no heir, he is leaving his fortune and a private property to Arthur — a unique home made of glasses and houses horrors of its own.
While expected to be a gore film based on the number in the title, Thir13en Ghosts (2001) lacks the bloodshed worthy of being called gore. Although one can argue that ghosts don’t really hurt people and are basically just trapped souls, it should be noted that the spirits in this film are hostile ghosts who have been wronged in their past lives and are seeking revenge one way or the other. This alone should have made the film color a carnage. Instead, we get one death that isn’t even caused by the ghosts — the lawyer that gets split in half by the glass doors. Runner-up? Dennis’ crunchy death.
The Grave Review
If you’re looking for a film with an interesting storyline filled with characters who have an undoubtedly fascinating background each, Thir13en Ghosts is one to watch. The film seeks to implore the curiosity of viewers with its Black Zodiac-themed narrative, a fresh device that veers away from the overuse of Necronomicon. The title, though, lacks the catchiness that it should have. It almost feels like it could have been better, but settled for what was available. Furthermore, the story, while good enough to be memorable, fails to deliver more. It was an ambitious film, but it didn’t go all the way. The characters didn’t grow on you. The buildup felt limp, even with the tiny plot twist that Cyrus was alive. It feels like there’s still a lot to be told, but instead, the film got condensed to a meager 91 minutes.
The most laudable part of Thir13en Ghosts (2001) is the production of the film. The house itself is a work of art, and is probably what makes this film known and memorable that you can almost wish houses that look like this exist, well, except for the ghosts part. It was impeccably designed to paint a picture of how rich Cyrus is, thus, proving rumors of how he “squandered the family fortune” as per Arthur in the earlier part of the film. In the story, the house served as the antithesis of how ugly and perverse Cyrus is. The house may look sophisticated, but it was built under the purpose of corruption. It did exactly what it’s supposed to do– to lure Arthur. And who wouldn’t be by the looks of it?
The production went all in as evidenced by the fact that even the ghosts were, no doubt, dressed to kill, pun intended. Each ghost personality went through a complete thought process, establishing characters that were meant to look scary but not too obscene. Of course, for a film that was produced by Robert Zemeckis, the standard begs to be sky-high. That being said, the special effects work, makeup and costume design were thoughtful and well-done.
Acting seemed dry for a horror film like Thir13en Ghosts (2001). Even Tony Shalhoub wasn’t able to give justice to a role that is just that. The film’s plot fails to create a more lovable Arthur Kriticos that people could sympathize with. Also, while Matthew Lillard’s sarcastic character and Rah Digga’s sass provided a bit of comic relief to ease the tension a bit, their roles were stereotypical to say the least.
Unfortunately, the cast members who are accomplished actors and actresses in their own right in addition to the exceptional special effects work did not justify the poor execution of the story itself.
For the foregoing reasons, Grave Reviews gives Thir13en Ghosts (2001) two and a half graves out of five graves.
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