aka 13 Ghosts, Thirteen Ghosts
91 min., 2001
Written by Robb White/Neal Marshall Stevens/Richard D’Ovidio
Directed by Steve Beck
My rating: ★★★★
Great effects with a little bit of great acting makes for a pretty great movie.
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A junkyard is where the movie begins. Cyrus Kriticos (F. Murray Abraham) is talking to Dennis Rafkin (Matthew Lillard) about finding and trapping a ghost named Horace “Breaker” Mahoney. After a little more talking we meet Kalina (Embeth Davidtz), who is trying to make Cyrus stop catching ghosts. Cyrus calls in a truck full of blood and then after a bunch of deaths they finally catch him, but Cyrus dies. We switch to the main characters, the Kriticos family. Arthur (Tony Shalhoub); the father, Kathy (Shannon Elizabeth); the daughter and Bobby (Alec Roberts); the son, and they also have a nanny, Maggie Bess (Rah Digga). A lawyer shows up and tells them that they have inherited a house from Cyrus and that they can move in. They have been having trouble ever since the kids’ mother died in a fire. So things are starting to look up…or are they?
Most of the acting is actually really good, but it’s the standouts that make everyone else just kinda sink into the background. Matthew Lillard is just great as the psychic ghost hunter-turned-helper. His over the top performance really takes the cake. Everything that he does helps to enhance a pretty regular character and turn it into a completely great character that is very memorable. Shannon Elizabeth also does a great job changing from bubbly daughter to distraught victim of a ghost attack. She transfers without problem and doesn’t over play it. On the other hand, we have Tony Shalhoub and F. Murray Abraham who both do really good jobs, but at the same time they seem to just be going through the motions. Good, but not as good as I would have expected from them. Lastly we have Rah Digga, who can’t act to save her life. Plus, she only seems to be there as comic relief. Which is normally fine, but in this instance it only seems to come off as the director and writer is yelling at you, “Look we have a black actress in our movie!” All of her lines come off as stereotype (I don’t think it was intentional, but it happens sometimes).
Now the effects are just awesome. From the simple bathtub full of blood to the ghosts that “blip” in and out of “existence,” they are all done superbly. The best part is, without question, the ghosts, all of which look great. My two favorites (make-up and effects wise) are the Torso, a headless and legless body moving around, and wrapped in plastic, just awesome, too bad he wasn’t on screen for very long. The second is the Juggernaut. With him, most of the make-up is very simple, but the addition of the great camera angles and the blipping effect just make him all that more cool-looking.
The movie as a whole is a really fun movie to watch. You can really immerse yourself into the world and sit back and just enjoy what’s going on. There’s no self-important plot that tries to make you feel stupid, which is a great turn from some of the other movies out there. Instead it’s a very straightforward and enjoyable plot that lets you forget that you’re watching a movie. Your brain won’t hurt from this movie, but at the same time your soul won’t hurt after you watch it. It’s fun and a great escape.Have You Read...?