Marie Morgan (Helen Parrish) is visiting the home of her deceased grandfather, who disliked everyone but her. He passed away when she was eight years old, but before he died, he told her to return to the house when she reached the age of twenty-one.
Having finally reached that age, Marie arrives at the home to find that it has been vacant for the past thirteen years… but somehow, the lights and telephone still work. She recalls the day that her grandfather told her about his will, and decides to open the envelope which is supposed to contain the will.
Inside the envelope, she finds a sheet of paper which doesn’t include much information. All that’s written on it is “13-13-13.” There are no further details or instructions. What does this cryptic message mean? It’s up to Marie to find the answer… if she can survive long enough to do so.
William Beaudine directs 1943’s The Mystery of the 13th Guest, based on the 1929 novel The 13th Guest. The novel had been adapted once before, as 1932’s The Thirteenth Guest, starring Ginger Rogers.
The Mystery of the 13th Guest is a decent little mystery-thriller. The pace is generally quick, which works well for the film’s brief run-time of 61 minutes.
The performances, though they aren’t delivered by any big-name stars, are solid. The detectives are very believable as detectives, for example, and the members of the Morgan family are all appropriately suspicious.
The film could, perhaps, benefit from a more intense atmosphere. Though the pace is appropriate and the film isn’t dull, it isn’t as spooky as it could be, which makes it a little less fun than it could have been to watch. There are a few scenes here and there with ominous music and spooky shadows (and one very creepy mask!). These scenes are successful, but I would have liked to see more of them.
Still, its an enjoyable entry into the genre, and I’d recommend it for mystery buffs. The score: 3/5