Stir of Echoes Reviews
Not long after this supposed bit of fun, Tom begins to feel the presence of evil, and see the spirit of a deceased girl who had disappeared earlier. This latter part sees him become determined to discover the truth about the girl, hopefully bringing her closure and allowing him to return to life the way he was used to.
This is based on work by Richard Matheson,and, though I'm not familiar with the source material, I really dug this when looking at it on its own terms. There's a nice, spooky atmosphere, a good sense of dread and mystery, and some decent performances. Kevin Bacon is good in the lead, Kathryn Erbe is okay as his wife (and I will admit that I didn't mind her brief nude scene), and I liked Illeana Douglas as the woman who gets it all started.
Give this one a look. It's a well made, moody, and entertaining thrill ride.
The film does a very good job of setting the time and place - creating a mood of regular people living regular lives until something extraordinary occurs. The script fleshes out the characters, and not just of the main leads but of some of the supporting characters as well - to the point you think you KNOW these people. Kevin Bacon is in the lead, and he's just fine, but it is in the interplay between the two sisters, Bacon's wife and sis- in law, that are the glue that make this yeast rise. Katheryn Erbe as Bacon's wife and especially Illeana Douglas as sis-in-law bring humanity and reality to their rolls - totally believable as just regular folk.
I'm not going to go too much into the ghost story as I don't want to give anything away; but of course, as I mentioned earlier, there will always be a comparison to Sixth Sense, which is a shame, for while holding some of the same elements, this wasn't meant to be a copycat.
The cinematography works very well throughout the film, especially the more surreal moments. The "under hypnosis" scene is wonderfully thought out and quite a joy to behold.
Really about the only thing holding this film back is the final act where things become just a bit too convenient and conventional, which is unfortunate as the build up and mystery are quite interesting. It's not that the climax is over the top hokum, but rather that it deals with human reactions that play false given the realism (an interesting term considering that this is a ghost story) that has gone on before.
I will mention that the film has a coda, and while not the revelation of Sixth Sense, it is rather haunting in its own right. And finally, as the credits role there's a very cool song by Poe that nicely ties in the entire screenplay.
A not perfect film, but surely a cut above the usual ghost story type genre.
A solid psychological thriller, with Kevin Bacon giving a strong lead performance. Arriving and being overshadowed by the Sixth Sense back in 1999, the film has a similar plot and tone, and while it may not be as good, this film still manages to provide a fresh take on a ghost story.
Loosely based on the Richard Matheson (the I Am Legend story) novel of the same name, Bacon stars as Tom, a regular working man, living with his wife and young son in Chicago. One night during a party, Tom, his wife Maggie, and their sister Lisa discuss hypnotism with the rest of their friends. It seems Lisa practices hynpo-therapy, but Tom is very much a skeptic. Convinced to try, Tom lets Lisa hypnotise him, only to have it work more effectively than planned.
Arriving back at home, Tom begins to experience short bursts of visions. These visions are confusing to both we, the audience, and Tom. It seems to be a crime being committed against a woman, who also appears to Tom in another freaky vision. Tom may seem crazy, with eventual instructions by his visions to dig, causing him to take the instruction to heart, but his son also experiences visions, maybe even stronger than his father.
Tom: I'm supposed to dig.
A quick observation about ghost stories. When its a serious type horror film, ghosts tend to communicate in annoyingly cryptic messages, instead of outright telling you what the problem/situation is. When its a more light-hearted comedic film, ghosts will not only tell you what's going on, but basically hang out with you and provide comic relief. Writer/director David Koepp, better known for scripting some Spielberg blockbusters like Jurassic Park as well as Spider-Man, has directed both types of ghost stories. Ghost Town with Ricky Gervais was one, and this is the other. In these serious films, it doesn't help that all the familiar beats are hit, but the point I'm getting at here, is that this film is made well enough that the standard developments aren't as much of a problem.
Bacon is very good in this film. His portrayal of average Joe getting visions and becoming obsessed is handled very well. The son also does a good job. I really enjoyed the wife Maggie, played by Kathryn Erbe, as well. Maggie doesn't just sit back and worry, there are some fun elements that she brings to the character that fit quite well.
The film stumbles a bit when the convenience of a helpful character arriving occurs, as well as some of the turns in the last act, but for the most part, this is a very solid film, that does a good job of accomplishing what it has set out to do.
Tom Witzky: I never wanted to be famous. I just never expected to be so...
Maggie Witzky: What?
Tom Witzky: I don't know, ordinary.
"Stir of Echoes" is a great movie in every way. The acting is good, the suspense is great, and it was definitely one of the best movies of the year if you ask me. If it wouldn't have came out in the theatres at almost the same time as "The Sixth Sense," it would've been a more popular movie and it wouldn't be underrated like it is now. I recommend anybody who likes horror movies to get "Stir of Echoes," you won't regret it. NOTE: That was my Amazon review from the year 2001.
After being hypnotized by his sister in law, a man begins seeing haunting visions of a girl's ghost and a mystery begins to unfold around her.
On the heels of the great "Sixth Sense" comes this second kid-who-talks-to-ghosts movie. In this one, the father can also communicate with spirits, as he discovers (to his horror) after being hypnotized at a neighborhood beer-guzzling party. Kevin Bacon plays the father in one of his best performances yet, sympathetically portraying a young blue collar worker who is horrified not just by ghosts, but by the way his life is sinking into depressing ordinariness. The horror plot is developed a bit too slowly for a thriller, but it has some strong moments, and the denouement is thoroughly satisfying, even if it lacks the jaw-dropping climax of "Sixth Sense." The atmosphere and day-to-day details of the working class Chicago neighborhood are very well captured, especially for a genre movie.