When Cyrus Kriticos, a very rich collector of unique things dies, he leaves it all to his nephew and his family. All including his house, his fortune, and his malicious collection of ghosts!
Billy: I love Tony Shalhoub. I love that Tony Shalhoub is the lead in a horror movie. I love that Tony Shalhoub is the lead in a horror movie with Matthew Lillard as the kooky supporting role. Like, right away my faith in this film is rewarded by an over-the-top action sequence that’s rooted in the 3D spectacle, and Thir13en Ghosts continues to give us a horror movie that’s just fun. I’m laughing at things that aren’t “so bad it’s good” and instead just knowingly funny. And it’s really, honestly, really clear where everyone’s motivations lie. There are few shots that give as clear an exposition as that opening pan around the room in exposition, with the sound of the night of the fire in the background telling the story. You see Tony Shalhoub as a despondent, broken father who is consumed by grief. It’s a fantastic character based film and I think it delivers everything it promises. I couldn’t be happier.
Amelia: First off, I’m going to start with the parts of this movie that I dislike:
- Stylizing the title as Thir13en Ghosts. That’s just bad and, whoever insisted it was like that, you should feel bad
- That’s it, there’s literally nothing else I dislike about this movie
It’s really rare for me to find a horror movie like this one, with tits all over the place, gore galore, and hammy acting from everyone in it, and still just really enjoy it despite all that.
Billy: Everything about this movie is batshit insane in the best way. Like… it actually has a fairly deep amount of lore? Those ghosts are fleshed out beyond what we see onscreen, and it’s that sort of detail that lets me fall into this movie so heavily. Each ghost is honestly way gorier and more terrifying than it has any right to be, and it clashes just so perfectly with everything else around them. Death should be out of place like this. That’s why it’s scary. Because it comes when you’re just trying to live your life, which might include leaving your skateboard on the kitchen floor for a horrific accident. None of these ghosts are an open casket and it’s brilliant.
Amelia: I love that this movie’s climax just turns the crazy dial all the way up to eleven! We were already at ten with the collection of deformed and freaky spirits in the basement, but then a giant ghost powered machine that will allow the user to see into the past, present, and future?
Factor in that each ghost is visually different from all the other, have full backstories attached to them (despite that information never being said anywhere in the actual movie), a tonne of admirable practical special effects that hold up to this day, and that, coming in at exactly an hour and a half, Thir13en Ghosts never overstays it’s welcome, and you have a movie that’s just a hella fun time to watch.
Billy: One of the most impressive parts of Thir13en Ghosts, is the brilliance of its title. I’m still trying to track down Se7en Ghosts and Tw12ve Ghosts to complete my collection, but since that joke is probably already falling flat, let’s discuss instead the fact that Thir13en Ghosts is a remake. It takes just enough from the actual film to give it a connection, but where it really shines is in recapturing the spirit of William Castle’s gimmicks. It’s a special effects smorgasbord and I love it in that regard for how well it commits. It knows its setting and its world so well that it gets away with being a little goofy around the edges.
The Haunting 1999, which I know Amelia is going to bring up in the next paragraph, really felt like it had no idea what it was doing. There wasn’t any of that here. Thir13en Ghosts was steadfast in telling the story of a grieving widower reconnecting with his living family. It was always about family. Only this time that’s not a lie.
Amelia: To this day, I’m shocked that the remake of Thir13en Ghosts is so much better than it’s source material! That’s hardly ever the case! The Haunting 1963 compared to The Haunting 1999? There’s no competition. House on Haunted Hill original to remake? Again, it’s clear which movie wins. But Thir13en Ghosts next to it’s original? The remake actually wins this one! The first one is a gimmicky mess with 3D glasses needed to see the spooky special effects that are happening. The spooky special effects being dancing skeletons, so like, why even bother giving yourself a headache for the sake of the 3D?
I hate 3D because it’s a money making gimmick that requires I put something on my face to get a full experience. That’s the worst, I hate it. But I love the nod to the original in the remake with characters needing to wear glasses to see the ghosts, and although that’s still a gimmick, it’s within the movie itself and part of that universe, so it’s all good!
Billy: thir13en ghosts out of ten
This is a Scooby Do absolutely. We watched the original alongside this film a few years ago, but honestly? Thir13en Ghosts blows its source material out of the water in terms of rewatchability and just sheer enjoyability. It’s a great performance from Matthew Lillard, Tony Shalhoub, and F. Murray Abraham who… I don’t know why I didn’t talk about earlier in this discussion because he’s brilliant. Just all around fun. So yeah, thir13en ghosts out of ten. Well deserved.
Amelia: Seven and a half ghosts out of ten
Billy doesn’t seem to be taking our grading scale seriously, so I’ll be the one to give you an actual number. And yeah, that number is actually pretty high because Thir13en Ghosts is a great movie! It’s a sort of campy, over-the-top fun that you don’t find in a lot of horror nowadays because everything is taking itself too damn seriously! Horror is a genre that you have to commit a lot of yourself too as you ingest it. And sometimes it takes a lot out of you. Watch the first two Hellraisers back-to-back and tell me you didn’t need some fresh air to clear your head afterwards! Having Thir13en Ghosts be a horror you can just have on without a commitment but still get everything you need from it? Stupid stylized title be damned! It’s great!