Underrated Horror Movie Recommendations: Thirteen Ghosts

There’s a bit to say about this movie since it had a strong enough premise and a group of actors to make it work and raise it up from the B level where it’s been since it was released. But the unfortunate part of this is that as much as exposition can kill a plot, there wasn’t nearly enough in this movie to save it, and on top of that, it relied a little too heavily on the elements coming together without anything that was needed to bind them being front and center. In other words, 13 Ghosts, which is a remake of sorts, didn’t get a strong enough push since the whole thing could have been blown apart with a well-placed bit of logic that would have created a domino effect. Apart from that, however, if a person can shut off their brain and just sit down to enjoy this movie, then it’s a good one to veg out to while paying just enough attention in order to realize that there is more to this movie than just the ghosts that are being collected to power a machine that can allow a person to see the future and the past. 

The machine actually kind of gets lost in the midst of the story at some points, though whether if this is by design or not is kind of hard to tell since the focus shifts to the ghosts and then to the living rather frequently in some macabre way of showing the temperament of the ghosts and how they’re bound to interact with the living human beings that are being lured into the devilish machine that powers the place. When Arthur, played by Tony Shalhoub, and his family are offered an inheritance from his late uncle, played by F. Murray Abraham, they’re shown to the strange, glass-walled home that houses the machine, unbeknownst to them. For all the family knows, they’re being gifted something that feels absolutely priceless, which worries Arthur since after the loss of his wife things haven’t been that great at home. 

To be fair, a lot of people wouldn’t see a home like the one in the movie as a godsend since keeping it clean would be a nightmare, and the idea that something could be broken, be it a floor, ceiling, or wall, inadvertently and on accident is a little too great. But once it’s revealed by Matthew Lillard’s character, Dennis, that Arthur’s uncle, Cyrus, was gathering dark spirits to power the machine, which again, goes largely unnoticed until later, it’s seen that the glass panels are a lot harder than the audience might have thought. The spirits that are held within each container by hidden barrier spells, which I won’t even go into since it would take days to fully explain magic and how Hollywood uses it to one extent or another, that keep them from escaping, at least until a single panel is rolled back, giving them an easy way to get out. And lo and behold, it’s the greedy lawyer that, upon taking his payday from the control board to the cages, allows one of the ghosts to walk free. 

The death scenes, of which there are only a few, are actually pretty violent, but in terms of gore they’re pretty low on the scale compared to other horror movies, since there’s plenty of blood, but as far as seeing people being torn apart, there’s not much of that. The spirits each have their own disturbing appearance, and the Torn Princess is perhaps one of the strangest since she shows up naked with several cuts to be seen on her torso, perhaps alluding to her state of being when she died. But each spirit was needed especially for the ritual, which was kind of cool to be certain since it meant that Cyrus had to really search for the right spirits that would power up his machine. But if a reboot of this movie were ever made, it’s fair to say that the spirits should be kept, but perhaps take on a resemblance that’s a little different simply to conform to the actual idea of what each one of them is supposed to represent. The ones used in the movie weren’t bad, but they could have been a little better. 

When all is said and done with this movie it is very entertaining if one doesn’t think too hard about it, and it’s a perfect movie for a Halloween night spent with friends and family or by yourself. The one great thing about Halloween movies is that they don’t have to be award-winning masterpieces to enjoy them since this is the time of year when it’s okay to sit down and enjoy a slew of B movies that are actually better than people say they are. 

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