Okay, maybe it’s me. “13th Child” has been getting a lot of good ink since it’s initial release last year, due in no small part for it being an independent, low-budget movie that actually got a limited theatrical release, beating the pants off of mega-budget fare like the deplorable “Ghost Ship” in the Jersey home-turf. It boasts some A-minus List cred with the likes of Guillaume, Down and “Uncle Ben” Robertson (with points subtracted by the presence of “Blue Lagoon” Atkins). It has terrific atmosphere, a restrained use of monster, cool production design. But it just doesn’t gel, ultimately.
For one thing, “13th Child” has the pacing of an industrial video. It’s deadly dull. Huge sections of the movie are devoted to Maryk wandering aimlessly through the woods, through Robertson’s character’s creepy house, through her own dialogue… There’s little suspense in the story about an investigation into a series of murders in the Jersey Pine Barrens, which are being attributed to the fabled “Jersey Devil”. As assistant to the D.A. of New Jersey, Maryk’s Kathryn links up with local cop Atkins and NYPD Grills, and together, the three of them flounder around for the better part of an hour, while Guillaume pops up every now and then to proclaim “I’m the only one who knows the truth!”
Maryk is one of the chief problems. She’s flat, uninteresting. Her character has no character. Robertson and Guillaume are having a great time, Atkins is desperate to be taken seriously, everyone is working darned hard, but nothing clicks. I lost interest after the promising first few minutes and waited an eternity for the film to end. The scariest part of the film came during the end credits when the title came up, reading “Volume 1” – threatening even more chapters of this sleep-inducing story!
Honestly, the movie should do well as a rental. There are lots of “Jersey Devil” fans out there. It’s the urban legend that will never die, not quite as dumb as a doom-saying “Mothman”. Maybe with a stronger lead and a brisker pace, “Volume 2” will be better.