Thir13en Ghosts

Dir: Steve Beck
Starring: Tony Shalhoub, Matthew Lillard, Shannon Elizabeth, Embeth Davidtz

Check out that wacky title, huh? I'm sure there's a point to it, but it largely escapes me - much like the film itself, which is a technical tour de force, yet lacks any significant emotional impact. Arthur (Shalhoub) is given a house by a mysterious dead relative, only to find what it possesses in style, it also has in pissed-off spirits trapped in the basement. Luckily, Exposition Guy (Lillard) is to hand, doling out gobs of plot as needed, while we marvel at the huge volumes of beautifully engraved plate glass and one truly spectacular death early on. This isn't nearly enough - not when the cast vary between blankly disinteresting (Shalhoub) and actively irritating (Elizabeth) - and the rest of the film features a lot of running, screaming and over-enthusiastic editing that cuts between people and ghosts with no apparent rhyme or reason. F. Murray Abraham is the uncle, proving once again that past performance is no guarantee of future success, and the value of an Oscar-winning actor may go down as well as up. Davidtz provides a mild diversion as about the only interesting character, though half the fun is working out where you've seen her before - she was the princess in Army of Darkness. It all proceeds almost exactly as might be expected, with the villain being dispatched in an effect that is surprisingly naff, given the loving care with which most of the others are executed. As a showreel for production design, this is unsurpassed: as an actual movie, however...


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