The 304th review!
As we said good bye to the 2010’s I wanted to look back, so I released a “Best of the Decade” list of my favorite horror movies. I enjoyed that so much I extended it all the way to the 1970’s. You can find them in the pictures section of the Mr. Pat’s 31 Days of Halloween Facebook page or at our website, mrpats31daysofhalloween.com. When you do something like that, some movies are going to slip through the cracks. So today I wanted to watch a movie that I sadly forgot all about. It’s...
Thir13en Ghosts (2011). Found a stream.
The movie begins with a ghost hunter, Cyrus and his psychic assistant Dennis, played by Matthew Lillard of Scream fame. Despite having what seems like an army with them, only Dennis understands what they’re getting to is not going to be pleasant. Soon after they are set up shit starts hitting the fan and it happens fast. Some unseen force is mowing down everyone. People are scattering like roaches and cars are flying every which way. It’s hectic as all hell but it’s really cool looking. I was watching and loving the spectacle it’s a helluva way to kick off the movie.
From there, it slows down and has a really effective way of using that annoying bit where they give you the movie’s credits. We start in a backyard where a brother and sister are happily frolicking. Then the camera moves to show an extremely happy Tony Shaloub and his wife talking about happy they are. At this point alarm bells should be going off in your head, and if not, the movie has a smoke alarm go off for you.
From there we get the credits, but the camera slowly pans around the house as the background starts to change and you hear how this family’s lives were turned upside down. I think it’s more effective this way and a clever way to keep you engaged while names keep popping up. It’s kind of heart breaking hearing what they went through. You literally follow them the whole way from happy, to a fire, to panic, fear, despair, then you hear them at the hospital and finally the funeral for the mother. It’s supremely well done and gives you all the backstory you need without having to show it, the distraught tone in Tony Shaloub’s voice painted everything for you.
We pick up later and the Kriticos family is living in a small apartment. They’re kind of tired of the the cramped place when a schiester lawyer shows up. He lets the family know that their uncle Cyrus has died and his fortune is going to them. So off they go to new home where Dennis is waiting and through some spooky circumstances they learn all the 12 ghosts they’d captured were stored inside the house they’re now trapped in.
That’s enough set up, I think. Let me start by praising the production values. It is awesome to look at. The house they go to is a huge glass one with twists and turns and every second they’re inside is a treat for your eyes. But it’s also not just a house, there’s a sinister reason behind the architecture and it’s constantly shifting. You could be walking down a hallway when all of a sudden something will change and the way you were headed is now blocked off. The crazy house is as much a character and as much a threat as the ghosts are. I can’t say enough about how cool everything in this house looks.
While we’re talking about the production, let’s talk about the 12 ghosts. They’re also very well done. The movie doesn’t go too deeply into them, but they all have in depth backstories that you could find in the DVD bonus section or in 2020 you can check out the Wikipedia page. You have The First Born Son, The Torso, The Bound Woman, The Withered Lover, The Torn Prince, who I always thought was the coolest because he looks bad ass swinging his baseball bat, The Angry Princess, The Pilgrimess, The Great Child and the Dire Mother, The Hammer, The Jackal and finally The Juggernaut who we met in the beginning.
They’re all scary in their own way, especially Hammer and Juggernaut and the chase scenes utilize the setting and spooky nature of these beings. In this movie the ghosts are invisible, but they can still hurt you. The only way you can see them is to wear special glasses. In the scary scenes you have some people completely blind to the danger they’re in and running through a literal maze that keeps closing off their means of escape.
But is it scary? Well... I don’t know, your mileage may vary. There was a scene with the youngest child being lured down the basement by a woman’s voice while another woman’s voice pleaded with him to go back upstairs and you don’t see either one. That part was legitimately scary but no other part comes close to replicating the feeling it gave. Still, it’s pretty creepy and Matthew Lillard sells it well. Speaking of Lillard, this movie also stars Shannon Elizabeth of American Pie. Around the time this movie came out I was convinced both of them would be much bigger stars than they were.
Anyways, production values aside, this movie has some problems. For one, how some characters get from A-to-B doesn’t make much sense. You start getting “surprising” reveal-after-reveal and it seems alright at first, but the more you think about it, the more you realize it doesn’t make that much sense. Without giving too much away there’s a sequence at the climax that I still can’t make heads-or-tails out of and I think the movie would rather you skip over it.
This movie was ravaged by critics and non critics alike, but I don’t understand the hate. Sure it’s not the best movie in the world, but there’s nothing deal breaking about it. The ghosts are frightening and a major threat, Matthew Lillard’s overacting is fun to watch and the way everything looks and how it was shot is awesome. I even liked some of the strobe effects with the ghosts continually flashing between there and not there. If you can find it, I’d say watch, but I wouldn’t put too much effort in the search.
6.5 Dr. Chainsaws!
When Cyrus Kriticos, a wealthy collector of unique things dies, he leaves it all to his nephew. All including his house, his fortune, and his malicious collection of ghosts!
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