It’s time to look at an old horror movie. This one’s definitely one of those flicks that may have been remotely scary back in the day but now you would just laugh. It’s very low key and the characters tend to get unnerved about rather small things. The ghosts themselves never really get to do anything and the film is riddled with recycled animation to try and save the budget. All in all that makes for a pretty mixed product here. It’s not one I would particularly recommend but I suppose it’s not one of the worst horror films out there.
The plot starts with Cyrus being rather down on his luck. The guy is really behind on his payments and as a result the tax people have been taking all of his furniture. They only leave behind the walls. Fortunately Cyrus then receives a large mansion from his dead uncle via will. The only catch is that he can only claim this if he lives in the mansion and that is certainly going to be rather tricky to say the least. That’s because there are a bunch of ghosts running around. Benjamin, the lawyer who told them about the will keeps trying to drive them away. He states that it just isn’t important enough to risk their lives over it and he’ll take it from here. Cyrus isn’t backing down though. Are these ghosts real or just more superstitions?
Naturally with a title like “13 Ghosts” you expect a lot of supernatural attacks. At the very least you’d expect the ghosts to have a large presence here, but that simply isn’t the case. Each of the ghosts has a gimmick like doing a chop or just yelling. That is all that they really get to do here and we see the same recycled animations for all of the ghosts each time they appear. There are only 12 ghosts for the majority of the film, but you can probably guess how a new one will be added before long. We hear stories of how the ghost utterly destroyed the uncle but it’s hard to buy into that from the start since they don’t do anything. As a result some twists may not land as hard as they could have.
The ghosts also do a terrible job of trying to explain the truth to the main characters. Surely they could have done something more to try and get their case across. At least at the very end of the film one of the ghosts finally made his move. I do have to question how he can overpower a real person since he’s basically see through, but it’s not a huge stretch to just assume that ghosts are given super strength. Again, if that is the case then they should have done something sooner though. What was stopping the ghosts can just axing the main villain right at the start?
It was interesting to see the Ouija board in a film this old though. Naturally it’s a whole lot less scary without all of the added special effects. If anything the game looks rather old and unimpressive. It also doesn’t seem to have as much of a taboo here compared to usual as the characters play it very nonchalantly. Of course once they get answers that they don’t want then they start to blame the board. Not playing it from the start is the only right response to this.
As always I have to say that the kid wasn’t great either. His name is Buck and he’s always insulting the hired help. There’s a maid who cleans up around the house and he insists on calling her a witch. By the end the film leaves it up to your imagination on if he was right or not, but either way he just comes across as rude. He’s also an incredibly deep sleeper as he doesn’t stir even when someone picks him up and puts him in a death trap. Come on…he should be more trusting. In general he shouldn’t be opening the front door to allow the lawyer in after hours either. There are just a lot of pitfalls here.
The other characters aren’t as bad, but they aren’t particularly great either. Cyrus and his wife are reasonable. They can be a little jumpy, but at the end of the day they are keeping the mansion. Then you’ve got the lawyer who is really scared of the ghosts. He constantly makes sure to remind the heroes that they could die any moment from the ghosts. I’m not sure if that is really who you want as your lawyer. I suppose he doesn’t have to be brave as long as he is experienced though.
Overall, 13 Ghosts is just very uneventful. The film doesn’t really do anything to try and be all that scary. For the most part it’s just a day in the lives of the main characters. They get a few scares, but for the most part they are just scaring themselves and it’s not even the ghosts doing it. At least they enjoyed their cash at the end though so the film had a happy ending. It’s just that the film really was unfocused. I still can’t get behind how bad the actual ghosts were. They just kept doing absolutely nothing for the entire film. If you cut them out of the film entirely then nothing would change as the single ghost at the end is not even related to the others. I mean, he is one of the 13 but you could have called it the Ghost instead and it would have been more accurate. Still a lifeless film, but at least not a misleading one. If you want a more intense film about ghosts then check out Scrooged.