Story: Lisa (Patty Shepard) has an enviable life, living on a plush, sprawling estate in an isolated stretch of countryside, which she shared with her husband. But when she is widowed after a mysterious plane crash, the luxuries of life don’t seem as important as they once were. She struggles to cope with the loss and as part of that process, she invites a number of friends to her home and while friendships can help heal, she has other plans in mind as well. An invitation to such a beautiful and luxurious locale is not going to be turned down by many, so all of her guests accept and travel to her estate. Once they arrive however, she informs them of why she has invited them to join her, as this isn’t just a social call, but one to uncover the truth about her husband’s death. She believes one of the friends was involved, but can the group figure who or will the killer simply strike again?
Entertainment Value: This is a competent, well made murder mystery, but as a horror movie or even thriller, The Killer is One of the Thirteen leaves a lot to be desired. The plot is interesting, an Agatha Christie type mystery that while not remarkable, weaves a decent storyline. That is where the film stops pushing however, as it might be watchable, but the movie never rises above that point, it just feels very forgettable. The narrative doesn’t weave in sharp twists or turns, just predictable reveals and the tension never heats up much. The pace is a prime suspect for why the movie fails to build steam, as this film rolls at a sometimes glacial pace, but in the best stretches, it is never brisk. Which I wouldn’t mind if the slow pace allowed for a nuanced, intricate plot to build to a slow burn, but that never happens, we just have a slow mystery with few thrills. At the same time, it does tell a coherent story, the cast is good, and the vibe is solid at times, so it doesn’t dip below watchable often, though I have to think few will revisit, given the pacing issues involved. The first time, you can likely deal with the slow pace, since there is hope for a payoff, but after that, this would be a much slower experience. In the end, I can recommend this to murder mystery fanatics, but that’s about all.
I think the cast is passable here and most of the performers are in fine form, but I do wish Paul Naschy had more screen time and involvement. He is the best well known name in the ensemble and has very little presence, sadly. So if you’re mostly interested because Naschy is here, just keep in mind he isn’t one of the leads and isn’t much of a factor in terms of narrative. I think that was a mistake, as at least he could have brought some much needed energy to the production, let alone perhaps a dialed up or at least a memorable performance. His scenes are fine and he does what he can, but he isn’t given much to do or much time to do it. Patty Shepard is good in the lead and covers all the basic needs of the material, I was just never overly impressed with her work here. That is likely more due to the material than her talent, as she does well with she’s provided. The cast also includes Simon Andreu, Trini Alonso, Jose Maria Prada, and Paloma Cela.
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