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MOVIE REVIEW

'13b'

A Bollywood effort appears mired at times in scary-movie cliches, but its taut suspense and surprising touches win out.

March 09, 2009|Michael Ordona

Not many horror movies include a choreographer and lyricist, but "13B" isn't shy about twice breaking away from the supernatural dread into euphoric music videos (and again in the credits). Still, that doesn't stop this Bollywood product from being a surprisingly effective thriller -- more so than many recent Hollywood products that clearly spring from the same tree.

Hard-working Manohar (Madhavan) and his brother have proudly moved their families and mother into a recently built condominium. Weird things start happening, such as walls not accepting the hanging of religious pictures and a mysterious new soap opera taking the place of the ladies' favorite program. This new show features a family with doppelgangers for everyone in Unit 13B, and Manohar soon realizes it predicts their future -- with some disturbing plot lines.

Despite some neat cinematic tricks by writer-director Vikram Kumar, the horror cliches are plentiful and the film demands a dizzying level of suspension of disbelief at times. The cogs of the story will be easily recognizable to watchers of recent Japanese horror, such as "Ringu" or "Ju-On" (remade stateside as "The Ring" and "The Grudge").

That said, "13B" is creepy and suspenseful. As Manohar, Madhavan delivers a particularly strong performance, especially in scenes with or concerning his sweetly beautiful wife, Priya (Neetu Chandra). The film is also delightfully dirty-minded at times, with a charming scene about the Kama Sutra, and has nice details, such as referencing the unique style of Indian soap operas.

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'13B'

MPAA rating: Unrated

Running time: 2 hours,

10 minutes

Language: In Hindi with English subtitles

Playing: At Naz 8 Artesia, 6440 E. South St., Lakewood, (562) 866-2444

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