Simply under general principle, it is probably a bad idea to remake a movie for which the original was at best mediocre. This is especially important when you don”t plan on improving on it at all. “13 Ghosts” is a prime example of exactly this sort of occurrence.

Paul Wong
Shannon Elizabeth (left) telling her friend ghosty that a pretty face is all you need.<br><br>Courtesy of Columbia Pictures

The story behind “13 Ghosts” is more than a little fuzzy. Basically, it is about a less than charming ghost hunter who dies in pursuit of one of his many ghosts. In his last will and testament, he leaves his “beautiful” house to his estranged nephew.

The nephew (Tony Shalhoub from the TV series “Wings”) is more than happy to accept this generous windfall due to a lack of funds after a fire destroyed his old house and wife. He and his family are currently living in apartment squalor, yet can manage to afford a nanny who doesn”t seem to do a whole heck of a lot.

The house, which is supposed to be enchantingly mystical, is really just confusing. You can never get your bearings as to what you are watching and where the characters are in relation to one another. On top of the fact that the house is really just a creepy glass fortress and in no way beautiful in the traditional sense, it is also filled with ghosts.

There really isn”t a lot more to say about “13 Ghosts” because not much more is explained to the audience. The family gets trapped in the house, scary ghosts chase and try to kill them and that is the entire movie. Not to completely dismiss the movie, for there were a few scenes that were incredibly creepy, but it never reached scary level.

In fact, not only was “13 Ghosts” never scary, but it really made the audience feel as though they were being forced into feeling scared instead of letting it happen naturally.

There are so many things that the characters do that are so stupid and unnecessary (worse than going outside to check out a mysterious noise) and you know that the only reason they are doing it is for the fear factor of it all.

There is one scene set in this bathroom where Shannon Elizabeth”s character (departing a bit from her usual role) spends a great deal of time looking in the mirror at herself and fixing the little strands of hair around her face. She then proceeds to go sit down at the bathtub and splash water over her face a few times becausewell who really knows (or cares) but it does set up perfectly for a moment of tension between her character and one of the ghosts.

The only redeeming aspects to “13 Ghosts” are the spontaneous lines and moments of comedy. Matthew Lilliard (“Scream”) is by far the best part of the movie and provides the majority of laughs. He isn”t quite as crazy as he tends to be in his other movies, but he definitely isn”t “normal” by movie standards. His quirkiness is just what “13 Ghosts” needs to liven it up a bit, and it adds some spice to the otherwise drab plot.

Overall “13 Ghosts” was a messy movie. It almost seemed as if it might have been thrown together at the last minute. It was all over the place with absolutely no sense of cohesion. Not one of the thirteen ghosts could do a thing to save this loser.

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