People who find Matthew Lillard and Shannon Elizabeth grating are likely the only ones who’ll get a kick out of 13 Ghosts. They’ll snicker when Lillard’s psychic ghost-hunter Rafkin convulses with every foreboding flash of evil and applaud when Elizabeth’s vapid, I’m-just-a-wide-eyed-wittle-girl Kathy gets the spacey smile wiped off her face Freddy Krueger-style. Then they’ll count the interminable minutes before this mess of a movie is over. The most understandable part of the story involves Arthur (Tony Shalhoub) and his two kids (Alec Roberts and Elizabeth), who are left in financial straits after a fire claims both their house and Mom’s life. A few months later, just when the family’s had it with their cramped apartment, lack of money, and inept nanny—yes, even po’ folk need a nanny—Arthur is told that he’s inherited a fab house from his Uncle Cyrus (F. Murray Abraham) and can move in immediately. On the night that he and the children go to visit the place—a glass-and-gears, ugly/beautiful monstrosity that’s really a machine—they learn the late Cyrus’ evil secret, something about his “nasty habit of enslaving souls.” Then things get supposedly spooky, with a few glimpses of dead people and a lot of frantic running around. 13 Ghosts borrows heavily from its more worthy forerunners, particularly The Shining and A Nightmare on Elm Street, but manages to replicate their setups without the terror: A dead woman in a bathtub, for example, somehow isn’t quite as scary when she’s got giant boobs. The movie spends more time explaining its elaborate plot (the house was designed by the devil, powered by the dead, yeah, yeah) than working up good scares, and the actors seem almost bored with each new development (after his boy innocently wanders off, Shalhoub attempts a feeble “My son is missing!” that might as well have been followed up with “Oh well, we all know he’ll be fine”). In addition, the whole thing’s capped off with a weird love-conquers-all resolution that seems meant to draw a few tears. On second thought, maybe that curvy corpse wasn’t such a bad move after all. —Tricia Olszewski