Thirteen Ghosts


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

The only fear is the fear of boredom.

A pre-title sequence in a junk yard, where wrecked cars eat people, sets the mood for the rest of the movie. Not so much silly, as incomprehensible. F Murray Abraham, who won an Oscar aeons ago for Amadeus, publicly disembowels his career, as the baddie, while Matthew Lillard, the tall lanky one from Scream, makes faces.

The star of this muddled mishmash of a horror spoof is that wonderful actor Tony Shalhoub (Big Night, The Man Who Wasn't There), playing a mild-mannered Maths teacher. During the credits his house burns down, killing his wife. You don't see this. You're told about it later.

Abraham is Shalhoub's uncle and after a car cuts his throat in the junkyard - don't worry, only kidding - he leaves Shalhoub his house of glass, "designed by the Devil and powered by the dead", according to Embeth Davidtz, who turns up unannounced, as some kind of spirit catcher.

It's no good even attempting to explain the story. Shalhoub has two kids, both infuriating - Bobby's small and Kathy's teenage plastic. They have a black nanny (Rah Digga), who makes stupid remarks and is no help to anyone.

In the basement of the house, which must have cost the set designers a pretty penny, ghosts are locked in glass cells. You have to wear special specs to see them. And guess what? They are ugly. Guess what again? They want to kill you.

Lillard is psychic, which means he can find a spook if it gets out, except, when it comes to it, he can't. His role is as doubtful as Davidtz's. They exist to get stomped, basically.

Why the thirteenth ghost? There is a convoluted story concerning this and it's something to do with love and death, or dying for love. By the time it comes up in conversation, the plot's toast. And so it doesn't matter.

Nothing matters except knowing where the exit is and heading that way pronto before your brain melts.

Reviewed on: 14 Mar 2002
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Thirteen Ghosts packshot
A house full of ghosts spooks Tony Shalhoub and family.
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Director: Steve Beck

Writer: Neal Marshall Stevens, Richard D'Ovidio

Starring: Tony Shalhoub, Embeth Davidtz, Matthew Lillard, Shannon Elizabeth, F Murray Abraham, Rah Digga, Alec Roberts, J R Bourne

Year: 2001

Runtime: 91 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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