13 Ghosts (15)

Review by Jack Foley

DVD FEATURES: Director's commentary; 12 featurettes;. 'The Making Of' featurette; Filmographies; Trailer.

ON THE the face of it, 13 Ghosts, a remake of William Castle's classic horror film of the same name, has plenty to recommend it. Its star, Tony Shalhoub, has made a career out of scene-stealing support turns in movies such as Galaxy Quest and The Man Who Wasn't There, while it was produced by Robert (What Lies Beneath/CastAway) Zemeckis and Joel (The Matrix) Silver.

But sadly, first-time director Steve Beck's movie fails to realise any of its potential, squandering the talents of its central star and descending into a tiresome re-tread of countless other horror classics.

The plot centres on grieving husband Shalhoub and his two children (played by American Pie's Shannon Elizabeth and young Alec Roberts) as they attempt to come to terms with the loss of their wife and mother in a fire which also destroyed their home.

Help appears to be at hand when they inherit a state-of-the-art house from an eccentric uncle (hammily played by former Oscar-winner F Murray Abraham), but the dream move quickly turns into a nightmare when the glass property traps them inside and unleashes 13 vengeful ghosts as part of an elaborate plan to unlock the gates of hell.

Anyone expecting a serious psychological horror to rival the likes of Kubrick or William Peter Blatty, however, is likely to be sorely
disappointed. This is standard horror fare which, aside from some impressive visuals, is as see-through as the 2,500 individual pieces of glass used to decorate the house.

Beck seems intent on cramming as much screaming, chasing and gore into 91 minutes as is humanly possible, while failing to deliver any genuine chills to satisfy serious horror buffs.

Indeed, the only scary thing about 13 Ghosts is the number of other movies it rips off, with Kubrick, in particular, likely to be turning in his grave at Beck's attempt to recreate the infamous tricycle scene from The Shining using a Cyboard kick scooter.

Visually, the movie owes a lot to Paul Anderson's far-superior Event Horizon while there is nothing really to differentiate it from countless other lame haunted house chillers.

Performance-wise, Shalhoub does well to emerge with his reputation intact, but the likes of Elizabeth and Scream's Matthew Lillard fail to generate any sympathy for their predicament - you couldn't really care what happens to them.

This is, as its title suggests, an unlucky movie experience for anyone venturing into the cinema to see it.