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Thirteen Ghosts (2001)

Personally, I'm not a big believer in the paranormal so I usually find it difficult to connect with the majority of films that sit within this sub-genre. I will say that this is one film that I will always make an exception for. 13 Ghosts is possibly one of the most enjoyable mild horrors to come from that early 2000s era. I don't genuinely believe it was ever created with the intention to scare but more to entertain and that it certainly does. The casting in this is a bit of a mixed bag, other than Matthew Lillard and Tony Shalhoub, everyone else does a mildly serviceable job. Shannon Elizabeth is surprisingly good in this but I don't know whether that is more due to how shoddy her previous performances have been. As much as I love Mathew Lillard, it's difficult to not associate him with his Shaggy character from Scooby Doo at this point and early on this performance definitely amplifies that. This is only really apparent when he plays up in his moments of fear, other than these moments he is great and it makes me wonder why he isn't on screen more than he is. The set design in the film is out of this world. The house is so imaginative and is like nothing I have seen before. The glass and steel architecture is so incredibly endearing and along with all the added enchantments and rituals written across all of the glass makes this really a really unique filming location. I must admit when these sets are combined with CGI as the house shifts and moves like a rubix cube it doesn’t quite hold up by today's standards. That being said, I still think it is passable and certainly not as bad as some of the more recent films I have seen. I think the cinematography is very well done here. The director appears to have a really good way of framing his shots. Having the set made completely from glass set really provides a lot of options and the director clearly takes full advantage of that, either shooting from above or below and also coming through the glass walls enables him to get very creative. He also utilises the ghosts well, through creative camera work. We see this mainly during the ghost attack scenes, where it transitions between shots in which the ghost are visible and then not visable on screen. This a way of showing us, the audience, how this would look either with or without the aid of the glasses that enables our cast to see them. This is a story telling tool that I find really helps set this apart from most other haunting/ghosts films I have come across. The ghosts design in this are how I would like to see ghosts portrayed in all films. Rather than being transparent or hovering entity's they just look and move the same way a human would just not visable without the assistance of the glasses. Obviously some do look better than others but overall the makeup and costume design is quite unique and individual, The Jackal being the most visually impactful, closely followed by The Hammer. As well as the look of the ghosts, I really appreciated the effort that when into provideding the lore behind their incarceration and how the house held them behind the enchantments on the glass. This film has plenty of entertaining twists and turns along the way. I'm not talking M. Night Shyamalan standard but for a first time watch I think there are a few things in here that most people would not see coming. Also, I was surprised by how graphic this film actually is. I always remembered it being rather tame. For me, it's a perfect film to introduce a young teen into horror as it certainly isn't scary and feels more like an adult Disney film than a straight up horror film but it is certainly an entertaining watch. I don’t think this film should be taken too seriously and I view it as light hearted entertainment. I have seen this countless times and can guarantee this won’t be my last, it is a lot of fun and nothing more.


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