Firstly, I would like to highlight that I would strongly recommend not reading this review if you have not yet watched the movie. There are spoilers ahead! You have been warned, so keep reading at your own risk if you haven't watched it.
After 33 years, the frightening tale of the 13 most terrifying ghosts upon the face of the Earth is solved...kind of.
The movie starts off with Vincent and his friend, Mortifer, fighting off the 13th ghost, who we finally discover is called Asmodeus. Asmodeus is captured and sucked into the chest, but the wandering spirits nearby in the woods attempt to get the chest from Vincent and Mortifer. Mortifer offers his life for the chest, and tells Vincent to run while he distracts the spirits (which sort of look like mini-Shadow Demons!). Vincent escapes, while Mortifer is consumed by the spirits. This was a very dark, promising setup to the movie which made me genuinely energized to see the rest of the film.
Then we have the intro. While I liked the nostalgic feel of the intro and Vincent's narration, there were a few major issues I had with it. All the demons were listed off, except for two demons which were oddly skipped over. Zomba and Nicara were never mentioned in the intro, which admittedly bugged me as those were two of my favorites. Additionally, though the other 10 demons were mentioned, two of them were sort of erroneously referred to. The Shadow Demon is said to be one of the 13 ghosts that the gang captured, which he's not. Queen Morbidia was the actual demon in that episode; the Shadow Demon was simply the ghost of someone's shadow who was actually not that evil at all. Also, instead of the ghost captain, which this movie finally confirmed to be one of the demons indirectly, the cyclone spirit was shown. The cyclone demon was not a separate ghost from the chest; it was actually the combination of Maldor, Morbidia, The Mirror Demon and Zomba when they were released from the chest. I did enjoy the intro other than that. The writers seemed to have good intentions when creating it, but they fell a bit short researching their facts and oddly leaving out two of the demons. That was a bit disappointing, as simply watching the two episodes would have prevented those major continuity errors with Morbidia and the ghost captain from happening.
We then have the scene shift to the gang chasing a person in the mall, who is quickly revealed not to be the perpetrator by a policeman. The man claims he was just running because he was "afraid of teenagers." Admittedly, I had a love-hate relationship with that joke. It was sort of funny and random, but also a bit annoying when they repeated it again at the end. The policeman tells the gang that they're out of their depth, and they should leave the crime-solving to the professionals. He also tells them Scooby needs to be on a leash due to the leash laws of the town. Feeling disgraced and humiliated, they listen to the policeman and hold a rummage sale for all of their stuff. Oddly, they didn't feel the need to listen to the policeman about the leash laws.
At the rummage sale, we see a lot of cool references to old Scooby villains: The Black Knight's suit, The Ape Man's mask, The Ghost Clown's mask, The Space Kook suit and mask, The Witch Doctor's mask, The Werewolf's mask ("Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Werewolf?"), The Shark God costume, The Abominable Snowman costume from Chill Out, Scooby-Doo! and The Black Samurai's mask. One man named Bernie Alan comes to the rummage sale and asks how much a crystal would cost. This panics Daphne, Shaggy and Scooby, who realize that it's Vincent Van Ghoul's old crystal ball. I'm not sure if this was intentional, but I can't help but wonder if the name Bernie is a reference to Bernie Gumpshure, the dog who replaced Scooby in "It's a Wonderful Scoob" after he quits solving mysteries.
Daphne, Scooby and Shaggy accidentally contact Vincent Van Ghoul through the crystal. Vincent says that the 13th ghost that they never caught, Asmodeus, has been attacking his castle. Fred and Velma, who are rightly confused, ask Daphne, Shaggy and Scooby to explain what's going on. They explain about the "summer" where they captured all the 13 ghosts except one. It is also explained that Fred and Velma were at camp during that summer. Daphne, Shaggy and Scooby enlist Fred and Velma's assistance in going to help Vincent capture Asmodeus in the Chest of Demons. Then, in a very cringeworthy scene, Daphne pulls a thin sheet off the other red Mystery Machine (called the Miss-tery Machine), which has apparently been in her garage the whole time but Fred and Velma never noticed. Such a stupid and unbelievable scene. How would Fred and Velma not have noticed that gigantic vehicle under a thin bedsheet for months? You can do better than that, WB.
Daphne takes back the unofficial role of leader, including driving the Miss-tery Machine, because Fred doesn't know how to drive a stick shift. I must admit I liked Daphne's new look in this film, definitely very empowering for her character. On the way there, in a scene very similar to what Rankor did in "Coast to Ghost," a phantom car chases the gang and runs them off the road. The Miss-tery Machine plunges off a cliff into a cold body of water, but luckily, their trusty rubber duck (a recurring gang from 13 Ghosts) breaks their fall.
Thankfully, the gang safely makes it to Vincent Van Ghoul's castle. They don't see Vincent right away, so they walk around a bit, but quickly run into Asmodeus, the 13th ghost. Asmodeus chases them around for a while, until they eventually find Vincent. Vincent asks where the chest is, and Shaggy replies that he mailed it to Vincent. Vincent says he doesn't have it, because Shaggy sent it to the castle in the Himalayas which was apparently an "Air Boo 'n' Boo". This was quite possibly one of the worst scenes in the movie, as it makes so little sense. The joke wasn't even funny, and it definitely wasn't worth creating that huge continuity error. And additionally, why would Shaggy send it through the mail? He knows how dangerous the chest is, and especially with the 13th ghost still out there, why would he risk that? Why would Vincent not ask him if he had the chest to make sure it was still safe? This doesn't make any sense, people!
Because of Shaggy's error (or rather WB's error), the gang goes to the other castle in the Himalayas to find the chest. Upon arrival, they split up in the same style as in 13 Ghosts - Velma and Fred on their own, while Shaggy, Scooby, Daphne and Vincent pair up together. The latter group runs into the phantom car again, which revs its engine to create an avalanche which they have to escape. Meanwhile, Velma and Fred run into Flim Flam, who is still a con-artist selling lots of merchandise inspired by the demon chest.
Daphne, Shaggy and Scooby finally enter the castle with Vincent, and run into Asmodeus who attempts to steal the demon chest from them. Asmodeus chases them around the castle, at one point switching to the demon-head form that all the demons took when Shaggy and Scooby originally opened the chest (in "To All the Ghouls I've Loved Before"). I thought this was a cool addition to the film, and it warmed my heart slightly that WB at least cared a little about this film. Eventually, Asmodeus corners Shaggy, Scooby, Daphne, and Vincent. Vincent says his powers haven't been working ever since Asmodeus showed up (which isn't really explained in the end, oddly), so in defense, he breaks the crystal ball, which explodes into a dense fog.
Daphne, Shaggy, and Scooby wake up outside, and quickly discover Vincent is still trapped in the castle with Asmodeus. Fred and Velma also crash-land in that area at the same time. Velma reveals that she has taken her glasses off because she doesn't need them anymore, as all her views of the supernatural have been questioned. Daphne claims that it's too late, because all the castle windows and doors are frozen shut and there's no way to get to Vincent. Fred then reveals he actually didn't go to camp in the summer, rather, he went to cheerleading training. While it was a good effort at humor, the joke wasn't particularly funny to me and seemed a bit cringeworthy and out of place.
In one final effort to stop Asmodeus, Shaggy, Daphne and Scooby make it back into the castle while Fred and Velma go to see Flim Flam again. Shaggy, Scooby and Daphne overhear Asmodeus try to steal the demon chest, which doesn't make sense to them because it can only be opened by the living, which Asmodeus is not. While I've seen a lot of fans complain about this, so it's worth bringing up that this wasn't even consistent in the original 13 Ghosts series. Many demons tried to steal the chest, and in some cases, open it even though it is said by Weerd and Bogel that the demon chest can only be opened by the living in the first episode. Three examples of this are Zomba, Time Slime and Zimbulu, the latter two of which actually did successfully open the chest.
Fred and Velma convince Flim Flam to come back with them to the castle. In a horrifyingly cringeworthy "trap," Scooby, Shaggy and Daphne pretend to be the 14th ghost to scare Asmodeus. Not only is the 14th ghost costume more terrifyingly cheesy than all 13 ghosts combined (it's literally just a white sheet with eyes and a mouth drawn on it), but there also is no 14th ghost which Asmodeus is well aware of. So, excuse my language, but what the hell did they think was going to happen?
Vincent, Shaggy, Scooby and Daphne are now all cornered by Asmodeus, until Velma, Fred and Flim Flam save the day with the Vaccu-Spook from the original series. Oddly, they only suck Asmodeus's cape off, even though the Vaccu-Spook was supposedly at its highest power (you'd think Asmodeus would have sucked in too). They reveal that Asmodeus is in fact not a real ghost, but Vincent's old friend Mortifer. Mortifer dressed up as Asmodeus so he could steal the chest back from Vincent to sell it. It's left a bit confusing as to why he wanted to sell the chest, knowing how dangerous it is, which bothered me. But what really bothered me was the ending. At the end, Mortifer escapes and revs his car engine once more to start an avalanche and trap the gang. During this sequence, the (possibly) real Asmodeus appears in the human-like form of a ghost, and disappears into the mist. Right after this, the policemen capture Mortifer and escort him to jail (or to the "ghoul-ags" as Vincent says, which I didn't find any of Vincent's spooky puns very funny).
Asmodeus is revealed to be Vincent's ancestor, Asamod Van Ghoul, who became evil and was imprisoned in the chest with the other 12 ghosts. Velma reads from the Grand Tome of the Chest of Demons that "revenge" is loosely translated as "redemption." Asmodeus just needed his good name cleared so he could be at peace. Though he was originally evil and placed in the chest as one of the 13 ghosts, he had "plenty of time in the chest to think about his misdeeds." Later, Velma comments to Flim Flam that she just made it up to comfort Vincent. It's left unclear how much of the story she made up, or if the ghost we saw was actually Asmodeus being redeemed. This was incredibly frustrating for me! It literally wrapped up nothing, except for the slight chance that there was some truth in what Velma had said. The real Asmodeus could still potentially be out on the loose somewhere, but we don't know for sure and may never know. At the very end, Flim Flam gives Shaggy some "Lotsa Luck Joy Juice" (from the first episode of 13 Ghosts) and the gang flies off in the Flying Mystery Machine (which WB messed up on too, in the original series it was the Mystery Flying Machine).
Overall, while this movie had some good potential, the gigantic continuity errors made me not like it quite as much. It also didn't have quite the same feel as the original 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo series, and felt just like one of the more recent DTVs. This movie was clearly made for the adult fans who remember 13 Ghosts, in order to the 50th anniversary of Scooby. It really irritates me that WB couldn't have done a better job researching the show and getting a feel for it. Even if it didn't have the same tone, at the very least they could have taken a few hours to watch some episodes of the show. That would have prevented most, if not all, of the continuity errors we saw in this movie. Also, Velma asking "What's a Scrappy?" is probably the worst continuity error of them all, as she met Scrappy numerous times in The Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show (1979) and The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries. I would have liked to have seen Weerd and Bogel make a cameo as well, so it was disappointing that they didn't. If we're going by the assumption that 13 Ghosts occurred chronologically after The New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show and The New Scooby-Doo Mysteries, there is also a large continuity error here. In "The Crazy Carnival Caper," Shaggy says that they have all graduated from high school. Here, it is said that they are all 17 years old. Most of these continuity errors were so easily avoidable, so letting them happen was as stupid as Rankor willingly going into the demon chest to avoid the sunlight, saying "Thanks, you guys are real pals!" (He actually does say this in "Coast to Ghost," effectively capturing himself without the gang having to do anything. I still can't get over how stupid that is! How is he one of the 13 worst ghosts on Earth? He actually has to beg with SAPS to let him in, despite how powerful he should be lol)
In terms of the positive aspects of the movie, if you don't consider the continuity errors, the plot was pretty solid and Asmodeus had a very cool design. Daphne taking the leadership role and getting a new look was awesome, and the Easter Eggs were fun to see. I'm going to rate this film a 6/10. I'd maybe watch it again someday in the future, but I'm not in any hurry to and I'm sure the continuity errors will continue to make me cringe. Let's hope Return to Zombie Island is better, though I'm a bit nervous now given this movie.
~ WildwindVampire ~